Incorporating ecosystem services and natural capital into environmental assessment

View of Perth Scotland © iStock

CPD-level Training

"Very informative. Trainers very knowledgeable and approachable. Use of case study examples ideal." Course participant, London May 2016.

"Really well presented and well researched. Should the course be run again I will recommend this to colleagues." Course participant, Manchester June 2016.

Why this topic is important to you

The ecosystem services concept is an increasingly popular way of describing the diverse range of benefits people receive from the environment. It is a term used in national and local planning policy in various jurisdictions of the UK with a view to ensuring that planning and management decisions build resilience and take into account the multiple benefits provided by the natural environment. Natural capital is a popular term too, referring to the 'stock' of natural features and processes that collectively provide ‘flows’ of ecosystem services. Businesses and the public sector are beginning to undertake natural capital assessments of areas of land they own or depend on.

For this reason, there is now strong interest in what ecosystem services and natural capital mean for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Sustainability Appraisal (SA).  One key factor is the framing of the natural environment as an opportunity, benefit or asset as opposed to simply a constraint or backdrop to absorb impacts.

Dates and venues

No more courses are planned for 2017. If you are interested and would like to be notified of any dates for this course in 2018, please contact 


This course will include presentations with time for group discussion, as well as case studies and practical exercises.  There will be flexibility to accommodate the interests of participants. 

Who will the training benefit?

The course is for professionals involved in environmental assessment processes (EIA, SEA and SA) across diverse sectors including built infrastructure and development planning, transport, energy, water resources and flood risk management.  It will be applicable to environmental assessment practitioners and stakeholders working from project level to strategic plans; and in relation to terrestrial and marine environments. 

Why participate?

  • Incorporating ecosystem services and natural capital into environmental assessments of certain plans and projects can improve project and planning outcomes. 
  • The ecosystem service concept is advocated in public policy across the UK and underpins Scotland’s Land Use Strategy.  This course will help participants prepare for when clients or colleagues ask about it;
  • Statutory terrestrial and marine planning processes are beginning to incorporate the ecosystem service concept;
  • Ecosystem services are already part of certain environmental assessment practice worldwide (e.g. IFC guidelines); and
  • Ecosystem service assessment forms an important part of managing natural capital, green infrastructure and natural resources as advocated by government in the UK.

What the course will cover

  • Why the ecosystem services concept might be useful in environmental assessment;
  • How the concept can be used in EIA, SA and SEA;
  • How you might use ecosystem services in theory and practice;
  • Challenges and opportunities (data requirements; legal compliance; guidance); and
  • The way forward.

Key learning outcomes

Following the course, participants will:

  • Be equipped to inform clients or colleagues on the merits of including the ecosystem services and natural concepts in environmental assessment processes.  They will understand the principles and the steps involved in applying ecosystem service and natural capital concepts.
  • Be familiar with the ongoing debate over integration of ecosystem services and natural capital into environmental assessment;
  • Understand the key principles and steps involved in applying the ecosystem services concept in environmental assessment, and the relationship with legal compliance with EU EIA and SEA Directives; and
  • Have an overview of key tools / methods that can support the consideration of ecosystem services as part of environmental assessment.

Course materials

All participants will receive copies of the presentations and other course materials for their own personal use after the event.


Dr Bill Sheate

Technical Director of Collingwood Environmental Planning and Reader in Environmental Assessment at Imperial College London. Bill has worked, lectured and published widely on environmental assessment and policy for over 30 years. He has been an expert advisor to the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, various national governments, WWF, RSPB, CPRE, the National Trust and many others.

Dr Peter Phillips

Associate RTPI, Senior Consultant at Collingwood Environmental Planning and guest lecturer in environmental planning and research methods at the University of Strathclyde. Peter has a particular interest in land use planning and the ecosystems approach and the use of Geographic Information Systems as a decision support tool. He has practiced, researched and lectured on SEA for ten years and has delivered practical SEA projects spanning pan-European electricity transmission infrastructure to local level regeneration planning.

Continuing Professional Development

The course, involving five hours of tuition time may be used towards CPD credits. Certificates of attendance will be available on request.

2017 Prices and booking

  • Special rate ticket (public sector and third sector organisations) - £215
  • Regular ticket (open to all organisations) - £285

Booking terms and conditions

  • Refunds will be given for bookings cancelled up to 20 working days before the event, less an administration fee of £50.  After this date, no refunds will be given.
  • Names of delegates within any one organisation can be changed free of charge up to five working days before the course date.
  • In the event of one or other trainer not being available, an appropriate subsitute will be provided.