Protecting our Natural Assets
We’re helping different stakeholders to understand the scale and status of over 60 natural assets in the Norfolk and Suffolk region.
We’re also supporting the development of a 25 Year Environment Plan for these assets and the implementation of demonstration projects to increase their resilience to climate change.
Climate change is a pervasive pressure on natural assets such as land resources, rivers and coastal habitats that support wildlife and supply a wide range of benefits to human society - at a global and local level.
It has been widely recognised that human influences have been responsible for a decline in both extent and condition of many natural assets in the UK. Many government agencies, local councils, businesses and NGOS are now implementing a ‘Natural Capital Approach’ to better incorporate the value of environmental assets in their decision making.
But if the world is going to develop effective long-term environmental plans in this way, we first need to understand the current status of these assets. We must learn more about the local, regional pressures they face and how to balance trade-offs when interventions aimed at enhancing one asset could impair others.
Professor Andrew Lovett and our team responded to this challenge by compiling and publishing an asset register and risk assessment of natural assets in Norfolk and Suffolk. We identified key habitats such as wetlands, saltmarsh, lowland heaths, chalk rivers and the aquifers that much of the region’s water supply comes from. These natural assets are also vital to both national and local economies such as agriculture and tourism.
As shown in the maps featured, Norfolk and Suffolk contain 10% of a variety of nationally-important assets, such as the highest quality farmland, peat deposits and priority coastal habitats.
Our research was successfully published as the Norfolk and Suffolk Natural Capital Evidence Compendium in 2020. It presents a huge variety of local natural assets and benefits that are currently at risk because of climate change and helped identify cross-cutting pressures to inform future environmental decision making.
“The thing that's really striking from the compendium results is just how pervasive a pressure climate change is. It affects the land habitats, fresh water and coastal marine environment, and many benefits that are extremely important to us. Food production, wildlife, clean water, recreation, our landscapes and more.” - Professor Andrew Lovett
Professor Lovett and his team are building on the Evidence Compendium to inform a new phase of the project that will run from 2021 to 2024.
Working with a consortium of stakeholders, the team will co-design a Norfolk and Suffolk 25 Year Environment Plan. Together they are also implementing a series of demonstrators for nature recovery that will increase the resilience of our landscapes to pressures such as climate change.
Professor Andrew Lovett
A Professor of Geography at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, Andrew Lovett has a particular interest in projects that involve rural land-use change, catchment management, future energy pathways as well as natural capital and ecosystem services. |
Some of his main research projects include leading on the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment (2010-17), the Knowledge Assessment Platform for the valuation of Energy and Nature together (2016-19), as well as work on green infrastructure and GIS applications for Business and Local Government Data Research Centre (2014-19).