UK government policies relating to economic growth and the environment explicitly identify the need to create ‘a green economy, in which economic growth and the health of our natural resources sustain each other, and markets, businesses and Government better reflect the value of nature’ (Defra 2011). Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Local Nature Partnerships (LNP), including those in Dorset, were specifically created to support achievement of this goal. Key challenges are the need to assess the economic value of ecosystem services and to factor them into decision making; and the need to develop integrated and multisectoral approaches to spatial development that improve synergies and reduce trade-offs, while supporting the sustainable management of natural resources.
This project is designed to overcome these challenges, through the development of a modelling toolkit that will enable the value of ecosystem services to be assessed and mapped, then linked with economic activity. While analysis of ecosystem services is now a major international research endeavour, linkage with economic activity (such as the inputs and outputs of different industrial sectors) is at a very early stage. The toolkit to be developed by this project will therefore be both innovative and timely. By piloting the toolkit using Dorset as a case study, this project will deliver a proof of concept, with potential global applicability if successful.