Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT)


The Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT) allows the user to assess the impact of new or proposed developments and plans on the value of Natural Capital and ecosystem services. The tool calculates a development impact score for 10 different ecosystem services, indicating the direction and magnitude of the impact on each assessed service as well as all services combined over a 25 year timescale post-development.

The NCPT is designed so that no specific ecosystem services expertise is required from the tool user. The user enters a range of readily and freely available indicators such as land-use changes into the tool. This information is then automatically translated into impact scores based on a quantification model which is informed by experts.


Data about the proposed development site such as pre- and post-development land-use information added by the user into an Excel spreadsheet.

Ecosystem service impact score / Development impact score
Site scale
Local scale
Cost of the tool (and guidance): 
Open access (free)
Prototype (not yet available)
Resource requirement (software): 
Microsoft Excel.
Level of technical expertise required: 
Excel skills
Types of ecosystem service included: 
Habitat type (UK NEA habitats): 
Mountains, moors and heaths
Semi-natural grasslands
Enclosed farmland
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Coastal margins
How does it work?: 

The NCPT is designed so that it can be applied easily and without the requirement for expertise in ecosystem services science or extensive data gathering/manipulation. The tool user enters a range of readily and freely available indicators such as land-use changes into an Excel spreadsheet following step-by-step guidance. Based on that information the NCPT automatically calculates a score for each of the 10 assessed ecosystem services (and all services together), indicating the direction and magnitude of the impact of the proposed land-use changes on the value of ecosystem services. The scores are based on expert knowledge already coded into the tool. Calculations are outlined transparently (no ‘black box’) and scores can also be adjusted by the tool user to acknowledge specific local circumstances.

Besides showing the direction and magnitude of the impact, the tool also states the maximum potential scores for each ecosystem service towards which designers can work to achieve the best outcomes in terms of ecosystem services delivery through smart design. Guidance on how to improve designs to increase ecosystem services performance is also included.

The tool can be used by planners and developers at different scales and stages of the planning/development process, for example to assess and monitor if a proposed plan or development provides a net-positive impact on ecosystem services. It can also be used to compare different design options. 

Where can I get it?: 

At the moment, the NCPT is only available in an unpublished test version. It is being developed by the University of Birmingham and Northumbria University and tested together with several case study partners (see below). The NCPT will be released for public use in Spring 2018. For more information or if you would like to contribute to testing/reviewing the NCPT please contact



For references e.g. [01] see the reference list