Chalking up the Benefits

Case Study Information
The Lewes and Ouse Valley eco-nomics Group is working with local communities to value what nature does for people.
Lewes, East Sussex
Habitat types (UK NEA habitats): 
Semi-natural grasslands
Enclosed farmland
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Partners, organisations and stakeholders involved: 
  • Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust
  • Sussex Wildlife Trust
  • Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre
  • Lewes District Council
  • Lewes Town Council (via Lewes Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group)
  • Transition Town Lewes
  • The Environment Agency – Coastal Communities 2150
  • Natural England
  • Brighton and Lewes Biosphere
  • South Downs National Park Authority 
  • Sussex Flow Initiative
  • University of Brighton
Aims of the project/initiative: 
  • Work with the local community to explore and document the benefits to wellbeing in Lewes from the local environment (with a focus on the chalk downs)
  • Raise and spread awareness of the gains for the Lewes local economy from locally provided ecosystem services
Progress so far: 
  • Involvement in public engagement activities and production e.g. 'Waking up to Tomorrow' response to climate change, adaptation vision and action plan for the lower Ouse valley and coastal areas.
  • Designed, ran and reported on a community engagement workshop on Ecosystem Services for Coastal Communities 2150 (CC2150). See short film.
  • Designed, developed, trialled and used tools for community engagement with ecosystem services e.g. using 'naturegain' instead of 'Ecosystem Services'; Naturegain Going Local workshops; Naturegain walks; the Big Benefits Game.
  • Produced maps of community perceptions of ecosystem service provision around Lewes and had maps produced of the project area.
How does the Project reflect the ecosystem approach?
Principle #1: benefits from nature are important for all of society: 

Has targeted initiatives and organisations already attempting to reach key elements within the local community (e.g. the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan which is attempting to engage the whole community in Lewes Town).

Is targeting:

  • professional organizations working to engage with the public in taking an interest in the environment (e.g. South Downs NPA, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Natural England)
  • organisations engaging with young people and schools (e.g. Lewes Railway and Wildlife Trust. and the Environment Agency's CC2150 project)
Principle #11: all knowledge and perspectives should be valued: 

Efforts are made to reach a wide audience via the strategic approach outlined above.

Principle #12: involve more of society in decisions: 

The project is actively involving those with relevant expertise and knowledge. For example:

  • the involvement of South Downs National Park staff, Natural England Staff (local & National staff)
  • close working with Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre, The Environment Agency and the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group


Principle #2 local is best: 

The local level is the entire target of the project, by raising awareness within the Lewes community of the value of local natural capital & ecosystem services, the project has allowed a range of local people to bring these issues to the attention of decision-makers locally (e.g. Ecosystem Approach taken by Lewes Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee).

Principle #3 think of others: 

Consideration of implications of the project beyond its boundaries has been made by the Neighbourhood Plan catchment communication approach and work with regional and national bodies.

Scale and dynamics
Principle #7 work at the right scale: 

The project considers appropriate geographic scales and timeframes both implicitly and explicitly.


  • Naturegain Going Local workshop process
  • Involvement with Lewes i-tree survey
  • CC2150 links and catchment issues raised for Lewes Neighbourhood Plan


  • Chalking up the Benefits engages the next generation by working with schools
  • the CC2150 project is working within a timeframe of the next 100-150 years to help adapt to climate change by producing a vision or action plan
  • The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan looks 15 years ahead
Principle #8 look well ahead: 

Though not quantified, consideration of the long term impact of the project is central.

Principle #9 be adaptable to change: 

As an awareness raising project adaptation to short and long-term environmental change is inherent.

Functions, goods and services
Principle #5 maintain the health of nature: 

Protects the core functions of the environment through a number of ways, including: promoting supporting ecosystem services as key issue for planning, education and highlighting all ecosystem services through activities such as, Naturegain Going Local workshop and Naturegain walks.

Principle #6 don’t overexploit: 

Ensuring that the environment isn't overexploited and natural limits are adhered to is a key aim of this awareness raising project; increasing recognition of natural capital, ecosystem services and the benefits they provide.

Principle #10 balance the demand for use and conservation of the environment: 

By highlighting where such conflicts arise and making them evident and visible.

Providing 'users' of the environment with evidence/information about multiple benefits and the advantages of these over single benefits.

Further information
Contact name 

Colin Tingle

Role in project: 
Project Officer
Location map: