New maps show the West of England’s natural assets, as never seen before

Wednesday 18th May 2016

Ecosystem Map #5 Combined ecological networksEcosystem Map #5 Combined ecological networks

On Wednesday 18 May, the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) unveiled a series of innovative maps that show the most important environmental areas in the West of England.

The maps illustrate where the local stock of natural capital assets and shows how green space is vital for things such as better water quality, local flood protection and pollination. The maps are designed to inform local decision making and help ensure that the West of England remains green and nature-rich place to live and visit.

The maps, known as ‘ecosystem service maps’ are the first time that nature’s services have been mapped and analysed in the West of England. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people get from nature, such as composting, air and water cleaning services, as well as for recreation opportunities. The maps were created using over 200 datasets and show where the nature is working to support our economy and society.

The West of England Nature Partnership is the Local Nature Partnership for the West of England region, which exists to create and coordinate a plan for the restoration of the natural environment. Working with partners, they aim to integrate that plan into strategies for public health, economic development and spatial planning, and have been developing a special Trust to invest in natural capital across the region.

Ian Barrett, CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust and WENP board member said “these maps represent the vital first step in better understanding the contributions nature provides to people in the West of England – we forget that without nature doing its job properly, we wouldn’t get the vital things we need for life – air, water and food. Natural ecosystems underpin our health, our wellbeing and our economy, therefore there is a real imperative to look after this vital resource”.

Matthew Heard, Area Manager for Natural England and WENP board member said “these innovative new maps will help enable growth and prosperity in the West of England that works with nature not against it. The maps will help make sure that the West of England remains a fantastic place to live and work. The West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) is using data and new technology to highlight the value of the environment.”

The maps are available for the public to view and download from the WENP website from Wednesday 18 May and will be further shared with partners at the WENP Annual Conference on 1st June in Keynsham. The production of the maps has been part funded by Wessex Water, through the WENP