The Ecosystems Knowledge Network was launched as a project in 2012 and gained charity registration in 2015. During this period, the Network has been working consistently for the benefit of its 2000-strong membership. Our members are at the forefront of stewardship of natural environments throughout the UK. The majority work at the local level.
By equipping our members, we work for the benefit of people in all parts of society. According to our vision, the environment is core to everyone's health, wellbeing and prosperity.
In a survey conducted in late 2016, eight out of ten of our members say we make a difference in the way they work. Three out of ten class this as a big difference.
Our impact is evidenced by the way we help our members and others to be more effective in their work to manage the environment as an asset with benefits for everyone. Here are some things that our members have said:
"I believe EKN provides an essential service in disseminating the most current information on topics, bringing together aspects such as ecomomic prosperity and health with the natural environment. It provides excellent networking opportunities through the seminars and training events it organises". Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, Member of the Executive Board of Surrey Nature Partnership
"The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is a unique resource that draws together practical knowledge across the UK about managing the environment for everyone's benefit. It has helped us know where to start in applying big concepts like natural capital in Northern Ireland." Craig McGuicken, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Ireland Environment Link
We are also proud of specific outcomes from our work, in which UK capability for managing the natural environment has improved. Here are some examples.
Partnership work in the East of England
In 2015, we were invited by the Local Nature Partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to run a workshop to facilitate new partnership work between organisations in the health and environment sectors in the area. This took place in July 2015 and involved 50 people (details are here). Out of this event, a 'Naturally Healthy' Workgroup has been formed, involving local environmental organisations as well as public health and academic specialists. This group is actively pursuing funding opportunities for new projects that will benefit the health of the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Ensuring analytical tools are deployed
In April 2016, we launched our on-line Tool Assessor service, which helps our members and others find the methods by which they can map and value the multiple benefits provided by the environment in their area. We have featured these tools in our webinars. In November 2016, 99 people around the UK participated in a webinar on an application of one such tool (EcoServ) in Northamptonshire. According to a senior planner from East Northamptonshire District Council (who spoke during the event), the tool will play an important role in informing the siting of housing in the area.
Securing Northern Ireland's natural capital
In 2015, we worked with Northern Ireland Environment Link (a registered charity) to design the scope and Terms of Reference for a new Economics of Nature Working Group for Northern Ireland. The aim is to raise the profile of the value of nature in policy and practice in the Province. The Working Group involves representatives from the public, private, charity and academic sectors. The Ecosystems Knowledge Network chaired the first meeting in December 2015 before a first appointment for this role was made. We have subsequently prepared case studies to inspire the group and helped it to plan a conference on ‘Delivering Prosperity Through the Environment’. This event took place in September 2016 and was addressed by the Environment Minister. The event, and the activity of the Working Group, has set the stage for various policy initiatives in Government to manage the environment as an asset. Proposals for natural capital asset index were included in the 2016 consultation on a Programme of Government for Northern Ireland. (A natural asset index developed in Scotland is being used by Scottish Government as a measure of economic health of Scotland).
Informing funding guidelines
In 2013, the Network team provided advice to the Heritage Lottery Fund's Landscape Partnership scheme on the inclusion of the ecosystems approach in its application guidelines. The guidelines have been published and are being used to guide new proposals for major projects to protect and enhance landscape heritage across the UK.