A number of recent assessments of natural capital have recently been undertaken, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity at the global scale, and the National Ecosystem Assessment in the UK. These initiatives have highlighted the importance of natural capital to economic activity and human wellbeing, while also identifying the significant social and economic costs resulting from environmental degradation.
However, the links between natural capital and economic growth have not been clearly established, and this presents a challenge to economic development planning. This is illustrated by the case of Dorset, where the aims of the Local Economic Partnership are to “deliver growth through business enterprise while safeguarding the environment”. Local government decision-makers within Dorset have identified as a priority the need to understand the contribution made by Dorset’s environment to its economic wellbeing.
The proposed project will address this knowledge gap, building on the research strengths of BU. The project will develop a suite of modelling tools to support economic forecasting, which is widely recognised to comprise an important element of economic planning. At present, decision-makers in Dorset do not have access to such tools, which is hindering the development of economic plans. This project is supported by a HEIF5+1 grant.