One of Natural England’s functions is to work with partner organisations to secure Green Infrastructure (GI). GI can be succinctly defined as semi-natural or designed green areas that are planned to provide ecosystem services, economic growth and quality of life benefits. Natural England has a particular interest in GI that also advances Biodiversity 2020 and the Natural Environment White Paper’s priorities including reconnecting people and nature.
exeGesIS developed a methodology for monitoring GI delivery, making an assessment of the delivery agreement against the GI delivered. This was based upon Natural England's existing Integrated Site Assessment methodology and encompassed ecology, access, green roofs and other aspects of GI delivery. It also allowed users to create bespoke targets against which to assess the site, to allow site-specific features to be considered.
The methodology was tested on four sites in the vicinity of Hull in March 2013 that included a range of features. Targets were established based upon the delivery agreements for each site, against which the sites were assessed. Any targets that were not met were identified and discussed.
This work was further developed in a second contract. We facilitated a workshop to focus Natural England's requirements for the survey methodology and, using consensus building techniques, agreed a reduction in the number of assessed features to make the methodology more user friendly. We then redeveloped the survey form, consulting further with Natural England to ensure the survey was suitable to the target audience and easy to use. We also wrote a comprehensive survey handbook to be used alongside the survey form.
The work was documented in a report to Natural England that covered the methodology development, selection of survey sites, results, redevelopment of the methodology, an assessment of the appropriateness of the methodology and recommendations for further development.
Further information from Mike Lush.