Natural Capital Assessment in Northern Ireland: Urban Study

Project description: 

This report presents a natural capital assessment of two urban sites in the Belfast area, Bog Meadows and Minnowburn, and was commissioned by Northern Ireland Environment Link. Using a natural capital accounting framework, the assessments aimed to identify and assess existing natural capital assets, the flow of services from them, and the monetary value of the resultant benefits. The net ecosystem service benefits were then established, taking into account the costs of maintaining the natural capital assets. This assessment has shown that the natural capital accounting approach can be successfully applied to urban sites in Northern Ireland. Both accounts show that the sites are providing significant goods and services to society, and these are 50-80 times higher than the costs of maintaining the sites. Natural capital accounting is useful at highlighting the value of the natural environment, which may otherwise remain hidden. It is hoped that the application of Natural Capital accounts will be used to inform decision making and that the case studies described here can be used to demonstrate best practice, and to showcase the importance of natural capital in Northern Ireland.

Organisations involved: 

Natural Capital Solutions; Northern Ireland Environment Link

Scale of project: 
Belfast area: Bog Meadows and Minnowburn
Total area covered by project: 
1 (sq. km)
Special purposes of project: 
Create accounts

Which ecosystem services were focused on?: 

  • Aesthetic/inspiration
  • Sense of place/heritage
  • Education
  • Recreation/tourism
  • Spiritual/religious
  • Crops, livestock, fish
  • Drinking water
  • Energy
  • Fibre
  • Food
  • Trees, standing vegetation, peat
  • Carbon sequestration & storage
  • Climate regulation
  • Detoxification and purification in air, soils and water
  • Disease and pest regulation
  • Flood control
  • Noise regulation
  • Pollination
Other ecosystem services included: 

Habitat and population maintenance (biodiversity) (regulating)

Characteristics and features of biodiversity that are valued (existence, option, bequest) (cultural)

Habitats mapped for ecosystem services: 
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Semi-natural grasslands
Contact name: 
Dr J. R Rouquette
Natural Capital Solutions Ltd
1 Lucas Bridge Business Park, 1 Old Greens Norton Road, Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8AX
07790 105375