Conference considers new opportunities for nature

New opportunities for nature have been explored as part of a conference aimed at policymakers and environmental managers.

The concepts of biodiversity net gain and natural capital feature heavily in current policy and legislative proposals being considered by the UK government and there is a need to understand the opportunities and challenges they present at a local level.

The Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership's (GLNP) annual conference held on Wednesday, 6 November took on the theme Drivers of change and set out to help local decision makers consider the potential of net gain and natural capital across Greater Lincolnshire.

The event coincided with the 2019 Natural Capital Week led by the Natural Capital Coalition.

GLNP Chair, David Hickman, said: "The level of interest in today's conference demonstrates that policy makers across Greater Lincolnshire recognise we are in a period not only of significant change but also significant opportunity.

"Delivered in the right way, biodiversity net gain could provide real wins for the natural environment. It is also vital that we embed the natural capital approach throughout our policy and decision-making processes to ensure recognition of the socio-economic value that the natural environment can provide."

The event, held at The Showroom in Lincoln, was the GLNP's biggest to date with more than 120 delegates in attendance to hear speakers that had travelled from across the country.

The conference programme included Dr Martina Girvan from Arcadis Consulting giving an overview and introduction to the natural capital concept before handing over to Jim Egan of Kings Crops who looked at what it might mean for nature and farming.

The GLNP's own policy officer Luke Bamforth also spoke about their work to date on natural capital and how they hope to support Partners across Greater Lincolnshire embed natural capital thinking in both policy and practice.

On net gain, Rachel Hoskin from Footprint Ecology introduced the concept with a key focus on good practice guidance for local authorities. Cody Levine then explained how a strategic approach towards net gain from Worcestershire County Council had enabled various Partners to work closely together. This was followed by Nick Squirrel from Natural England's Dorset team looking at examples of biodiversity net gain working in practice.

Net gain and natural capital are both anticipated to have close links to the creation of a Nature Recovery Network as committed to by the Government in their 25 Year Environment Plan. The final speaker of the day was Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Paul Learoyd, who explored how these links might work in practice to ensure NRNs deliver for both wildlife and people.