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Conservation 21: Natural England’s Conservation Strategy for the 21st Century

October 18, 2016 |


Conservation 21 sets out our thinking about what we need to do differently and how we need to work with others, to better deliver this shared ambition.

It brings together our own and others’ experiences of what works and the latest science and evidence, with innovative approaches, new partnerships and different ways of thinking about nature and the vast array of benefits it provides.

Our strategy is based on three guiding principles:

  • creating resilient landscapes and seas
  • putting people at the heart of the environment
  • growing natural capital

It is underpinned by our focus on the outcomes approach – delivering better long term outcomes for the environment by understanding people’s interests and needs, and working towards a shared vision.

Growing Natural Capital

The concept of natural capital is a powerful new tool that can help us all understand what we get from the natural world. It offers the potential to make environmental planning central to local and national decision-making: Local strategic plans can reflect investment in enhancing the natural capital of a place; investment that compromises natural capital may need to deliver suitable compensation, whilst investment that enhances it could benefit from different forms of incentive.

Our work and the language we use needs to engage with this new agenda. Rather than reflecting primarily on risk, we will look at how investment can enhance the environment and the benefits it provides to local communities. We will be working with change and looking for opportunities that come from it, rather than seeking to prevent it. We will demonstrate how landscape scale plans can serve economic and community needs through enhancing natural capital.

We will work with Government and others to develop the appropriate national policy framework, monitoring approaches and delivery tools to put the concept of natural capital into practice. We will also invest in more strategic schemes and work with national stakeholders and local planners to demonstrate the benefits – and limitations – of this approach, to the environment and to wider society. Demonstration of added value from a healthy natural environment will be core aspects of national evidence development and local focus area efforts.

Too often conservation practice has been based on ‘renting’ outcomes, rather than securing long term stewardship of our environmental assets. We will advise on how to better align long term investment decisions with regulatory standards, and secure public benefits through voluntary mechanisms such as conservation covenants. Getting the regulatory framework right, alongside inspiring, motivating and encouraging people to think long term, will help secure voluntary agreements, and incentivise investment.

Download the report here.

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