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Assessing The Natural Capital Of  Three Hagges Wood-Meadow

The payback: conserving natural habitats makes financial sense

An assessment of the ‘natural capital’ of Three Hagges Wood-Meadow by eftec (Economics for the Environment Consultancy) 2015

 
The recreational and educational benefits of the new wood-meadow at Escrick, North Yorkshire are at least two and a half times greater than the costs of creating and maintaining it, says a new report, produced by The Economics for the Environment Consultancy Ltd (eftec) on behalf of the Hagge Woods Trust (HWT).

The report, the first of its kind, measures the natural capital value of Three Hagges Wood-Meadow, a 10 ha community woodland near York. The site has been developed in line with Professor Sir John Lawton’s call for ‘more, bigger, better and joined’ habitat networks (1).

HWT converted the former barley field into a wood-meadow ecosystem in 2012, by planting 10,000 native trees in a mosaic of coppice woodland and meadow. The project used ecological principles and low-tech land management methods to increase the variety of wildlife. Three years on, there are 200 native plant species. The wood-meadow also supports insects, including pollinators, as well as songbirds and small mammals. Around 20% more insect species have been identified this year compared to last.
Recreation and educational benefits have the scope to increase further or double. In addition carbon sequestration has improved(2). The wood-meadow will generate overall environmental and social benefits of between £15,000 - £20,000 a year over the entire life of the wood-meadow.

‘Using techniques that are within the grasp of land managers everywhere, HWT has created the first of what we hope will be a series of community-based, grass roots projects that make Prof Sir John Lawton’s aims achievable. We now have the data to show land managers and government that conservation makes economic sense. Careful design and management of nature can extend the value of a Forestry Commission grant. We hope Three Hagges Wood-Meadow will encourage other landowners to follow our lead. Our aim is to inspire a wood-meadow in every parish,’ says HWT.
This study follows the Corporate Natural Capital Accounting framework, developed by eftec and others, for the independent Natural Capital Committee. The committee advises the Government on the sustainable use of England's countryside.

Ece Ozdemiroglu from eftec said:
‘Small beneficial projects like this can be done with very little data and effort. The results clearly make the case for similar investments elsewhere.’