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Defra ELMs Test & Trial in Hampshire: Supporting Local Land Management for Nature

Assessing the state of natural capital, land management priorities for landowners and the associated public and private finance opportunities For Defra 2024

“The future of the British countryside relies on collaboration across Government and the farming community to deliver the food we need and to transform the health of the country. The challenges have never been greater - securing clean water, clean air, restored nature, healthy soils and reversing the drivers of climate change - all require a new business planning approach to investment. Empowering everyone with information is the catalyst for change.”

~ Merrick Denton-Thompson, landscape architect and Project Facilitator.


Title: Defra ELMs Test & Trial in Hampshire: Supporting Local Land Management for Nature

Client: Defra

Year: 2024

Service Area: Accounting for Natural Capital

eftec team: Ece Ozdemiroglu, Duncan Royle, Ally Couchman, Emma Thomas


Our Natural Capital Baseline and Opportunities report submitted to the ELM Convenor Advisory Board:

ELM Convenor Final Report Mar-May 24 Document 4 Natural Capital Baseline and Opportunities
Download PDF • 3.28MB

About the Project

This Defra funded Test & Trial project was designed to test the composition and governance structure of a county-wide Convenor Board to set local priorities for land management in the county of Hampshire. eftec’s role was to:

  • produce a baseline natural capital assessment for six National Character Areas (NCAs) within Hampshire comprising 90% of the county area,

  • assess risks to this natural capital,

  • identify opportunities for improvement to natural assets and quantify the associated benefits of change, and

  • assess the scope and scale of financing opportunities (both private and public) to fund these improvements.

This information was used to enable the board to make informed decisions on local priorities by balancing the multiple benefits of land use, (e.g., food production, nature conservation, water supply, carbon sequestration and access for public recreation and well-being). It also empowers land managers to make informed choices about options for changes to land use and land management practices.

Economic data was merged with spatial maps of ecosystem stock, risks and opportunities, (provided by partner Environment Systems) to present an overview of the baseline state of the natural environment and identify the most significant opportunities for improvement, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, and adapt to important pressures such as climate change.

This information was used to support the Board’s decision making and communication with county-stakeholders such as landowners but also buyers / investors. The economic data and spatial maps of risks and opportunities were presented by Land App in a format that could enable farmers and other landowners to prioritise land management decisions based on their acceptability, the policy objectives of the area, the ecological and economic opportunities for improvement, and the financial incentives available for them from public and private sources.

Figure 1. Benefits, disbenefits and one of the opportunities (Habitat creation) for Hampshire Downs.

The opportunities are defined specifically such as soil monitoring plans (funded under SFI options), or nutrient reduction (potentially funded by water companies).

Table 1. Priority opportunities, benefits and funding in Hampshire Downs

The project established that county-based convenors could be an effective way to disseminate information to landowners of the potential opportunities for ecological sustainability and regeneration of agricultural land according to local priorities and to provide farmers with the information required to approach nature markets to finance these changes. Alongside clarity from the government on the stacking and bundling of public and private finance, the provision of locally pertinent information and the monitoring of changes by these convenor boards will be instrumental to restoring biodiversity and mitigating climate change in the UK.

The Strategic Business Planning Framework has the following sections.

Priority opportunities that are ecologically feasible, economically beneficial and has the potential to be funded for a given National Character Areas

1.       Drivers of change

Climate change, nitrate pollution, development needs, population growth and others

5. Stakeholders

Who makes / contributes to decision making, whose support is needed

2.       Priorities for the area

For agriculture, nature recovery, water and recreation and others

6. Risks

Risks and uncertainties surrounding the delivery of priority opportunities

3.       Timescales

For delivering priority opportunities and when benefits can be realised

7. Key enablers

Those who provide information, communication, support and delivery mechanisms

4.       Costs

Ballpark estimates of investment and on-going expenditure, which can be made more specific for specific locations and suppliers

8. Monitoring

KPIs for successfully delivery of priority opportunities

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