What is natural capital?
The protection and improvement of the natural capital of Sussex is a core objective of Sussex Nature Partnership.
Natural capital refers to the elements of nature that produce value to people – whether directly or indirectly.
Our natural capital ‘assets’ are the stocks of renewable and non-renewable natural capital such as our soils, freshwater, farmland, forests, atmosphere, oceans, ecological processes and the natural processes that underpin them.
The flows of ecosystem services and benefits that our natural capital provides can be very obvious such as food, fuel, clean air, clean water, and opportunities for recreation. Others are much less visible, such as climate regulation, flood defences provided by natural vegetation, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peatlands and other habitats and the pollination of crops by insects.
Natural Capital Investment Strategy
In 2019, the partnership published a ‘Natural Capital Investment Strategy for Sussex’. This explained the importance of the natural capital of Sussex and set out a range of actions required to both protect and enhance our natural capital assets for their own sake – and for the benefits and services they provide. This document guides the priorities of Sussex Nature Partnership and informs the focus of its working groups.
An annual update on implementation of the strategy is included in the SxNP Annual Report produced in March each year (2020/21 Annual Report).
In November 2021 the Environment Act passed into law and introduced two specific strands which are directly relevant to the protection and improvement of our local natural capital:
- Local Nature Recovery Strategies
- Biodiversity Net Gain
Local Nature Recovery Strategies will be prepared by ‘Responsible Authorities’ (public bodies such as County Councils) and will set out a local vision, priorities and opportunities for delivering benefits for nature and people.
Biodiversity Net Gain is a mechanism through which developers will be required to provide an increase in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that being affected by the proposed development.
Sussex Nature Partnership has an important role to play in supporting the implementation of these mechanisms across Sussex.
The current priority work strands for SxNP under this theme are:
Local Wildlife Site Initiative. This initiative was established in 2018 and aims to establish and maintain a functioning Local Wildlife Sites system for Sussex. It covers East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove and sits under the umbrella of Sussex Nature Partnership.