Our vision

Image of people on high ground overlooking view

The environment: an asset that provides benefits for everyone

We are working towards the time when the natural environment throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is managed as an asset that provides benefits for everyone.  Our vision is positive and realistic. It is very different to the status quo. Here's how:

1. A positive vision

We want to see investment in the environment because of its contribution to people's health, wellbeing and prosperity. We are working towards the time when:

  • Decisions affecting land and water will be based on a thorough understanding of all the benefits provided by high quality natural environments, from flood risk reduction to improved air quality.
  • Long-term investment in local environments will be seen as making economic sense in all professions, from public health to property management.
  • Local communities should be at the heart of making informed decisions about the environment they - and others - depend on.

Above all, our positive vision is about being people-centred and prudent in how we plan and manage the natural environment locally. It involves thinking about the longer-term consequences of what we do. It means working across traditional boundaries, whether these be administrative, social or even natural (such as watersheds). The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is driven by the ecosystem approach; an established set of principles that guide us towards more holistic and inclusive management of the natural environment.

2. A realistic vision

We think twenty years is all that is needed for our vision to become reality. Here are some reasons why:

  • Within the 2,000 strong membership of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, we have the knowledge, the examples, the local capacity and the initiative to make our vision happen. Our members are innovators and influencers delivering projects that turn this vision into outcomes that people can see - see our case studies. They all have different starting points - in planning, in forestry, in health - but show the value of joined-up, people-centred thinking about the environment.
  • Government in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland has provided some very forward-thinking public policy to support implementation of our vision. 
  • We have a wealth of information about what the environment does for society. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment, completed in 2014, was a world first in providing detailed evidence of nature's value to society.

We will have fulfilled our vision when the value of the environment is reflected in local and national decisions currently perceived to have little to do with it. For example:

  • Organisations at the heart of the health system will be routinely partnering with those who control access to natural outdoor spaces, in order to deliver health outcomes.
  • Planning for local economic growth will start with detailed consideration of the capacity of the natural environment to support new activity.
  • From local parks to open landscapes, all parts of local communities will be at the centre decisions to invest in the environment. 

3. A different vision

There is a strong case for continuing to protect and restore nature and natural features because we treasure them in their own right. Our vision involves doing this and much more.  Management of the environment should be based on understanding of the multiple benefits that the environment provides for everyone in society.  This way, we can involve those who may otherwise see the environment as an obstacle to their own personal goals.

Make our vision your vision

Join the Ecosystems Knowledge Network so you can make our vision your vision.  We are a unique award-winning resource for sharing knowledge about how to make our vision a reality. Tell us how you are working to apply our vision. Tell us if you would like help in knowing what it means for your work.

Tell us if your organisation would consider partnering with us in our work.  Partnership means lots of benefits for you and your organisation.

You can also donate to our work too. We are entirely dependent on our members and partners for their financial support. Contact us on info@ecosystemsknowledge.net