Haytor, Dartmoor by Herby Thyme via Wikimedia Commons

Haytor on Dartmoor by Herby Thyme via Wikimedia Commons.

The Environment and Sustainability Institute, and partners, launch innovative Natural Capital Mapping Project

The University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), Landmarc Support Services, Smiths Gore and SKM Enviros have together launched the Natural Capital Mapping Project (NCMP).

The aim of the project is to develop a tool that will enable intelligent land and environmental resource planning to maximise land use across the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) UK training estate.

This project, the first of its kind, is being piloted across two areas of the Defence Training Estate - Barry Buddon in Scotland and Dartmoor in the South West - both of which Landmarc manages in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the MoD’s property and services provider.

Mat Roberts, head of sustainability at Landmarc Support Services, said, “At Landmarc we are always striving to integrate cutting edge advice and services to offer sustainable solutions. Adding natural capital mapping to our broad range of expertise allows us to not only deliver industry leading services for our client, but also add to the wider benefits of integrating sustainability into business.”

The NCMP is part of Landmarc’s wider objective to protect and preserve the environment affected by its operations and those of its wider supply chain, whilst making efficient use of the natural resources available. This is the first time that natural capital mapping has been used as a business decision making tool. It will enable the MoD to realise additional opportunities across the estate and better understand the impact of its military training activities on the natural environment.

Natural capital is becoming an increasingly important commercial opportunity and a key policy driver where businesses have the ability to influence future regulatory and revenue frameworks. As the MoD’s national training estate is a significant asset in the UK, it is the ideal place to optimise gains from natural capital and piloting opportunities.

Nigel Hayward, senior manager of DIO’s Operations Training Estate and an integral part of the project team, commented, “DIO's priority is to support our Armed Forces as they prepare for operations.

"As a major public land owner, we always look to ensure our management of the Training Estate fully reflects the Government’s policy commitments for sustainable development. Landmarc’s initiative to undertake this project will give us a greater understanding of the wider environmental and social value of the estate and will help inform future tactical and strategic planning decisions.”

Dr Jason Beedell, head of research at Smiths Gore added, “The MoD’s land is an important national asset, not just for military training but for biodiversity too.  This industry-leading project will provide the MoD with a unique tool for looking at the natural capital on the estate - wildlife, water, carbon and renewable energy.  It can be used to protect or offset the land from any activities carried out on it, which puts the MoD in the lead in thinking about natural capital.”

Peter Young, strategy director at SKM Enviros and a member of the Government’s recent Ecosystems Markets Task Force said, “The timing is absolutely right to map and develop a tool to demonstrate how the MoD’s training land can be managed more effectively for both military purposes and to enhance the massive stock of natural capital which it holds. Substantial markets are emerging in ecosystem services and nature, and this project can lead the way in how to unlock these markets for the benefit of all.”

Dr Ilya Maclean, a lecturer in natural environment at the ESI concluded, “The ESI is a £30 million interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change. Projects such as this demonstrate how we can work with partners to develop more sustainable solutions in a real world setting”.

The ESI is working with businesses and enterprises across all sectors of the economy in Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond to translate research and expertise into innovative business practices, products and services in order to respond to the challenges of environmental change. It has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£22.9M) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6M), with significant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Date: 15 October 2013

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