Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) and Natural England are working with a consortium led by the University of Oxford to develop the ‘eco-metric’ which aims to measure the ability of habitats to deliver ecosystem services. It can be used to measure the net change in natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides as a result of land-use change or development.
The 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP) states the government’s goal of leaving the environment in a better state than we found it. It highlights the opportunity to expand the net gain approaches used for biodiversity to include wider natural capital benefits. The recent Defra consultation focuses on mandatory biodiversity net gain. Whilst not part of the mandatory consultation, the eco-metric is identified as a potential future mechanism for making the transition to natural capital net gain in a way that is underpinned by biodiversity net gain.
The eco-metric mirrors the Defra biodiversity metric methodology, by applying a matrix of scores for different habitats and ecosystem services, which are modified by multipliers reflecting habitat condition, spatial location, delivery risk, and the time taken for new habitats to reach maturity. In phase 1 we developed a draft approach (download our webinar). In phase 2 we are aiming to finalise the methodology drawing on the expertise of habitats and ecosystem services specialists. We are developing a spreadsheet tool for data entry that will allow ‘eco-metric’ calculations to be completed in a simple and easy to use format and are testing the tool in a series of pilot projects across England. We will report on the findings through a webinar to the Ecosystems Knowledge Network on 30 April 2019, with final reports published later in 2019.
Clare Warburton; Natural England; 5/12/2018
Watch the Ecosystems Knowledge Network webinar on Eco-Metric