Each year, National Park Authorities make tough decisions around how to deploy their limited resources and must balance their aims to enrich experiences for visitors, to boost the rural economy, and to ensure the protection of the National Parks’ special qualities.
Profs. Brett Day and Charles Tyler, together with Impact Fellows Dr Michela Faccioli and Sara Zonneveld from the University of Exeter, are working with Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities to develop new ways of maximising the Parks’ natural assets. These natural assets include landscapes, cultural heritage and wildlife.
This project aims to help the parks by providing evidence to inform those difficult decisions, maximising benefits and minimising the negative impacts.
Our partnership with SWEEP provides an exciting opportunity to develop a local approach to natural capital – to test the applicability of natural capital as a framework to develop the Management Plan for Dartmoor National Park and to look at how we might assess the impact of housing growth around the National Park on the Park’s natural capital or ‘special qualities’.
The partnership will enable us to learn from the SWEEP team and, we hope, vice versa. It should provide us with the knowledge and skills to respond to the forthcoming White Paper on the Environment which the Government has said will adopt a natural capital approach.
Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive, Dartmoor National Park Authority
Adopting a ‘natural capital’ approach
This project is initially focusing on assisting the DNPA and ENPA in developing natural capital accounts – a way of calculating the value of the natural resources and associated ecosystem. These accounts can then be used to inform the Park’s future Natural Capital Investment Plans, which set out the potential return on investment for any enhancement, maintenance and restoration projects they plan. This could include for example peatland restoration, hay meadow protection, or maintenance of public rights of way.
Furthermore, the SWEEP project team will work with the National Park Authorities to develop a post-Brexit agri-environment strategy, providing guidance on the design of local schemes to ensure environmentally effective and economically efficient targeting of agri-environment investments.
Another particular need of the ENPA and DNPA is to examine the potential impact of local population growth. The SWEEP team is assisting by modelling the pressures an increasing population will place on the access network, landscape and wildlife.
Michela is a postdoctoral researcher in environmental economics. She joined the team at the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) at the University of Exeter in January 2018, after working as a postdoctoral researcher in environmental economics at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. Michela’s research is focused on the economic valuation of the benefits that people obtain from the environment. Working across several SWEEP projects, Michela will use economic valuation to inform the development of natural capital accounts in the South West. She will also investigate ways of improving the design of payment for ecosystem services for farmers such that society gets more benefits from a better managed environment.
Sara is an Impact Fellow for SWEEP 004, working on natural capital approaches in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. She is a biologist with a background in ecology and ornithology. Sara has been based at the University of Exeter since 2013, where she previously carried out research on Dartmoor’s moorland birds.