The pressure on our natural environment, especially in areas where ‘the green meets the grey’, is increasing. This ‘green infrastructure’ or ‘natural capital’ is often poorly understood and undervalued. The benefits it provides are often inadequately described and quantified. Consequently our natural capital is rarely seen as the asset it is and the benefits or ecosystem services it provides remain poorly expressed.
Economic valuation of the benefits provided by our natural capital can help to mitigate this undervaluation. Furthermore, with improved information on the performance of our natural assets we can make better decisions. A first step to improve the management of this natural capital is to evaluate its current structure and distribution, obtaining a baseline from which to set goals and to monitor any changes.
This study was commissioned on behalf of the Highways Agency and provides detailed information on scale of benefits provided by the natural capital of the ‘soft’ estate in Area 1, expressing the economic value of those benefits in monetary terms. This is the first time that the Highways soft estate has been evaluated in this way in the UK.