Greater Manchester Green City Region. Creating a greener, greater city region differently

L-R: Mike Hodgkinson, Francis Hesketh, Krista Patrick & Ashley Gorst

CIEEM Awards: Highly Commended Natural Course Project

The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) is a leading professional membership body representing and supporting ecologists and environmental managers in the UK, Ireland and abroad.

The Irwell management Catchment (IMC) has 26 Heavily Modified Waterbodies which require restoration to good or moderate ecological potential under the Water Framework Directive.  A natural capital account was prepared to value the baseline flow of ecosystem services (ESS) from the waterbodies, valuing them at £418 million per year.

In addition, an ESS opportunity map was produced using environmental, social and economic attributes, covering the 26 waterbodies, 10 local authorities and over 200,000 individual land parcels.  The map aims to highlight opportunities to develop or improve ESS for each of the river valley corridors and provide the evidence base to promote investment and delivery of opportunities to protect and enhance the IMC’s natural capital.

The project also constructed a detailed land surface model, showing a fine-grained analysis of surface water flow paths, surface wetness and slope index which contributed to the ESS mapping of water quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

The integrated use of ESS and Natural Capital accounting into a single study was a novel technique to help the Natural Course project identify investment priorities for increasing natural capital and ESS.

The natural capital account has been cited in the 2019 draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework as evidence underpinning policy which seeks protection, restoration and enhancement of riparian natural capital.  The ESS opportunity map is publically available, allowing techniques and scores to be replicate, and is being extended to cover Greater Manchester.  The outputs from the project are also being used by four pilot projects, examining how a natural capital approach can be utilised in project development, stakeholder engagement and funding applications.

For further information on the project visit the Natural Course website.

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