This natural capital atlas maps the state of our natural capital in terms of its quantity, quality and location.
Enhancing the state of the environment is essential for both people and planet. This is because our wellbeing and prosperity relies on the benefits that we get from nature. The 25 Year Environment Plan aims to improve the state of the environment within a generation; we need to create resilient ecosystems where both people and planet are able to thrive.
Understanding the state of our natural environment is the essential first step to improving it. Natural England’s Natural Capital Indicators (Lusardi et al., 2018) are designed to inform our understanding of the state of our natural assets. These indicators measure the quantity, quality and location of ecosystems, and the flow of ecosystem services from them. The indicators highlight which properties of the environment are important for delivering which ecosystem services and benefits. Understanding the state of natural capital is essential to enable the sustainable provision of multiple benefits, now and into the future.
This Natural Capital Atlas has trialled using the Natural Capital Indicators to create a baseline assessment of the state of our natural capital in England. The project investigated the data sources which were highlighted in the Natural Capital Indicators report, and also identified new sources. Where nationally available data was found, maps and tables display indicators for the quantity, quality and location of ecosystem assets, and the flow of some ecosystem services.
As well as a baseline against which to measure change, this Natural Capital Atlas can be used to understand which ecosystem services flow from different ecosystem assets across England. The atlas shows where there are both strengths and weaknesses in the quantity and quality of ecosystems. This can inform opportunity mapping of where to enhance existing natural capital and where to target its creation for the provision of multiple benefits.
The second edition of the National Natural Capital Atlas: Mapping Indicators has been updated to include some clarification notes at relevant points through the document regarding catchment services. These services (water supply, regulation of water quality and flood protection) are associated with freshwater but are provided by the land across the wider catchment. There have also been some minor alterations to supporting text and images through the document. However, it should be noted that all the maps, and therefore the underlying geospatial data, have not been updated.