The HSSM is a key component of a forthcoming eco-metric tool that is being co-developed by DEFRA and Natural England. It will work alongside the DEFRA biodiversity metric to support the delivery of natural capital net gain (which links biodiversity net gain with environmental net gain).
A limitation of the HSSM approach when applied to AONBs is that it does not currently account for landscape character. Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is the process of identifying and describing variation in the character of the landscape. LCAs identify and explain the combination of elements and features that make landscapes distinct from one another by mapping and describing Landscape Character Types and Areas. The associated description of their distinctive characteristics shows how the landscape is perceived and experienced by people.
Local heritage specialists from Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire county councils provided us with access to existing landscape character and historic environment assessments. Ecosulis used this to develop an approach to extend the HSSM, enabling it to recognise the role of different habitats in contributing to each of the landscape character types identified through the LCA. By integrating landscape character into the HSSM, Ecosulis were able to explore the relationship between landscape character and ecosystem service provision in the Malvern Hills AONB.
Cultural ecosystem services are not as strongly associated with habitat as other ecosystem service types. Indeed, Dales et al. (2014) concluded that habitats are not a valid proxy for mapping the production of cultural ecosystem services. The HSSM approach developed by the Environmental Change Institute integrates cultural ecosystem services. However, while adapting these values for our work in Gloucestershire , we found that input from expert review groups exhibited subjectivity and “conservation desirability” bias.
In response to these challenges, Ecosulis developed a novel scoring methodology based on the natural asset approach (Ecosulis, 2019; Jepson et al., 2017). Under this novel approach, value is treated as a relational outcome, reflecting developments in ecosystem service theory, where cultural ecosystem services are increasingly recognised as the result of engagements between human culture and nature (Chan et al., 2012).
“Understanding the many different benefits or ‘services’ that our individual habitats (such as woodlands, orchards and grasslands) provide for people and the rest of nature is an increasingly important part of our work. However, the Malvern Hills AONB is designated for the quality of its landscape, which is the result of the complex action and interaction of natural and/or human factors over time.
This significant piece of work by Ecosulis has helped us to better understand how ecosystem services relate to landscape character and to the historic environment of this nationally protected area. This will help us as we work with partners to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB in the future.”
Paul Esrich, Malvern Hills AONB Partnership Manager
Want to learn more about rewilding and nature recovery?
Read more insights or explore our previous work.
We are always excited to take on new projects, approach unique challenges, and create novel solutions to make your rewilding objectives possible.
If you want to take on a nature restoration project or want to join our aim to accelerate rewilding, then we want to help.
Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about what we can achieve together.
ConstructionPrivate LandownersOrganisations & GovernmentUtilities
BiodiversityHabitat CreationRewilding AdvisoryGreen FintechELMs Landscape Recovery
History of Ecosulis
What is Rewilding?Principles of Rewilding
Ecosulis LtdHarwell Innovation CentreBuilding 173, Curie AvenueHarwell CampusOxfordOX11 0QGTel: 01235 612 216
Ecosulis LtdFaraday Wharf Innovation CentreHolt StreetBirminghamB7 4BBTel: 0121 250 5746
Ecosulis Ltd272 Bath StreetGlasgowG2 4JRTel: 0141 354 7699
Ecosulis LtdBritannia HouseCaerphilly Business ParkCardiffCF83 3GGTel: 02921 679 141
Ecosulis Ltd3rd Floor86-90 Paul StreetLondonEC2A 4NETel: 020 3974 2548
Ecosulis LtdLeiston Enterprise CentreEastlands Industrial EstateLeistonSuffolkIP16 4USTel: 01235 612 216
Company Number 03724176.