Quick-fire guide to
Natural Capital is increasingly talked about, but is it relevant to you yet? The short answer is yes. If you own or operate a business, you control some Natural Capital. Here’s our Quickfire Natural Capital guide to what you might need to know:
- What it is: “Natural capital is another term for the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g. plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.”1 Natural Capital Protocol – Capitals Coalition
- Where it is: Enclosed farmland is the largest proportion of land in the UK and supports large populations of wild flora and fauna, although at a macro level these continue to dwindle. Protecting and enhancing biodiversity is beneficial for both you as farmers and wider society, and this is becoming increasingly important to Government and the wider population.
- How much have you got: If you want to put a value on your Natural Capital you should understand and create a baseline of all the natural assets within your business property – these include habitats and ecosystems, means of capturing carbon, sources of sustainable natural assets and benefits to local communities and wider society.
- How can it help: Protecting and enhancing your Natural Capital assets benefits your business with positive effects for pest management, soil health and pollination.
- Adding value: Natural Capital management can also be financially beneficial as businesses can not only use the carbon which is sequestered to off-set carbon emissions, but you can use measured improvements to secure preferential bank lending rates, achieve increased values for land under sustainability measures and qualify for premium prices where sustainability can be evidenced.
- Ecological benefits: Baselining a farms Natural Capital will enable businesses to identify opportunities to improve soils, biodiversity and carbon management in support of ELMS applications.
- What it’s worth: Although it is difficult to attach cash values to your Natural Capital it will help in establishing the value of your enterprise. It will enable you to understand the value of the asset as well as measure the value of increases due to positive changes that you have made.
- Unexpected assets: Footpaths, bridleways, amenities and access for activities can increase the value of your Natural Capital. For example Forestry England calculates the number of people and visits to their sites for cycling, walking, running each year and then attaches a value for ‘Recreation Provision’ to the Natural Capital of their entire estate.
- Simple steps: Here are some ‘easy wins’ for Natural Capital according to Farmers Weekly:
- Improve hedgerows and create new ones
- Switch to a 100% renewable energy provider
- Create new carbon sinks by planting woodland areas
- Introduce measurable environmental goals
- Monitor soil organic matter levels and work to increase them
- Use green manures, buffer strips and cover crops
- Reduce soil disturbance
- Protect watercourses and reduce flood risk
- Consider providing recreational access2
- Can AF help: There are software tools specifically for agri-businesses which help baseline measure and manage Natural Capital. AF is collaborating with Trinity Agtech to offer a discount on annual subscription to their Sandy software. Sandy has a dedicated carbon module that provides personalised pathways to net-zero on your farming system by combining natural capital, agricultural and financial data to credibly forecast the impact of farm management decisions. Get in touch with AF Procurement Analyst George Youngs by email or call 01603 881 846.
Some useful resources and examples of organisations who are managing Natural Capital well are here:
Forestry England https://www.forestryengland.uk/our-natural-capital-approach
Natural Capital Coalition protocol file:///C:/Users/georgey/Downloads/NCC_Protocol%20(1).pdf
BSI Natural Capital Accounting Standard https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/standards/bs-86322021/
1 Natural Capital Coalition. 2016. “Natural Capital Protocol”. (Online) Available at: www.naturalcapitalcoalition.org/protocol