What is Natural Capital?
The term ‘natural capital’ refers to the stock of resources from the natural world that support our society. So, woodland, species-rich grassland, wetlands, peatland and other soils are all elements of our natural capital, providing us with a source of food, fuel, clean air, clean water, opportunities for recreation, and a host of other valuable benefits.
The Natural Capital Committee’s Third Report on the State of Natural Capital identified that this great asset to society is in long-term decline:
“Successive natural capital deficits have built up a large natural capital debt and this is proving costly to our well-being and economy. If economic growth is to be sustained, natural capital has to be safeguarded”.
The Northern Upland Chain is incredibly rich in natural capital, and there are some obvious links between the area’s natural resources and the economy it sustains. Sheep farming and forestry are dependent on the Pennine soils; the area’s geology supports the minerals industry; much of the region’s tourism economy and recreational interests – walking, shooting, cycling – are all inextricably linked to the gorgeous landscape of the Pennines.
However, the value of these benefits rarely translate into financial reward for those managing the land, nor into sustained investment in increasing, or at least maintaining the stock of natural capital.
The LNP is, therefore, taking action to raise awareness of the value of our local natural capital:
- We have set out our vision for what is needed to support high nature value farming and natural capital;
- We have produced two ‘Natural Capital Investment Plans’ to try to stimulate new investment in our peatlands and woodlands – two key components of natural capital in the northern uplands. Major new investment in conserving and enhancing our stock of natural capital would not only be good for nature but good for business, and will be essential for society to function effectively.
- We are currently developing a more wide-ranging document setting out the rationale for investing in natural capital to create the right conditions for prosperity in the northern Pennine uplands.