The Natural Environment White Paper – ‘The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature’ provides the policy context for protecting and improving England’s natural resources, wildlife and landscapes; and reconnecting people and nature. Specific recommendations include:
- Establishing greater ecological connectivity, through large-scale ecological networks.
- Connecting people with their landscapes.
- Greater public engagement in landscape planning.
The planning, design and establishment of ecological networks is primarily underpinned by natural science research and associated evidence and data. This is critical to understanding the appropriate scenarios and patterns for ecological connectivity, conserving habitats and planning for the movement of species.
However, the landscape and human/cultural dimension of ecological networks is often less considered as an underpinning part of the context and evidence and, as a consequence, not always fully integrated into their planning, design and implementation.
In late 2012, Natural England commissioned the study known as ‘EcoLaP’– Econets, Landscape and People to:
- Help understand how to capture the public’s perceptions of landscape change, aesthetic and cultural value.
- Demonstrate the practical ways and benefits of using this, often more qualitative, information to complement natural science data and mapping information when planning and designing ecological networks.
This report is part of the wider EcoLaP research and evidence and will be used to inform Natural England and others when planning and establishing ecological networks across England’s landscapes.