Developing a Landscape Scale Natural Capital Tool for Scotland


Person standing on top of Ben A'an hill viewing the loch below
Loch Katrine from Ben A'an in the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve.

NatureScot is leading on the development of an innovative new tool that will facilitate decision makers to take a natural capital approach for managing land at the landscape scale in Scotland. A natural capital approach is when the full range of benefits that we receive from nature are taken into consideration within the decision making process. Adopting a natural capital approach enables us to understand the role of our natural environment, alongside its intrinsic value, as an asset that underpins both our economy and society.

Nature provides a whole host of benefits that we are dependent on, known as ecosystem services, that are often overlooked in land management decision making. In order for these benefits to be included within the decision making process, we need the methodologies and tools to quantify them. By mapping and modelling how certain land use changes might impact the ecosystem services they provide, you can identify the scenarios and opportunities that provide the most benefits for both people and nature.

The tool will be the first of its kind in Scotland and is being developed in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University. The 'bones' of the tool will based on EcoServR, an existing tool in the coding language R for mapping natural capital assets and ecosystem services. The functionality of the tool, the ecosystem services that are measured, and the end product will be bespoke for Scotland and developed in line with the following key criteria:

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Design Criteria of Landscape Tool
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Design Criteria of Landscape Tool

Open access and free to use.
GIS based.
Useable at the landscape scale.
Based on a transparent and scientifically robust methodology.
Simple and easy to use.
Developed using a co-design process.

A co-design group has been formed of 50+ different individuals from across a range of organisations including public bodies, eNGOs, local authorities, landscape scale partnerships, natural capital consultants, research institutions and green finance organisations. A series of workshops are running from December 2022 to March 2024, where the co-design group will help shape the development of the tool and test a Beta product. The tool will also be piloted by five landscape scale partnership groups in September 2023.

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Circle graphic of ecosystem services
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Benefits from Nature


Renewables and non-renewable energy
Water supply
Natural medicine
Food and drink


Clean air
Carbon storage
Flood management
Erosion control
Water purification
Disease and natural pest control


Healthy soils
Nutrient cycling
Space for wildlife


Physical health and mental wellbeing
Knowledge and learning
Sense of place
Spiritual and religious connections

Project lead Donya Davidson, [email protected]

Facilitating Local Natural Capital Investment

This pilot aims to demonstrate practical ways in which private finance and investment, combined with public funding where appropriate, can support nature-based outcomes.  As a first step, the project has published a Literature Review to provide a detailed understanding of natural capital investment initiatives in the UK and overseas and identify key learnings for the application of similar approaches in a Scottish context.  It aims to build awareness and capacity amongst regional and local partnerships for how they can facilitate private investment at a local level in nature-based solutions.  It focusses on developing the business cases, structures, mechanisms, and supporting tools required to deliver significant investments in natural assets that have the potential to be scaled up and replicated across Scotland.  The project responds to the challenge to secure more varied and sustained investment in nature, and find innovative approaches. It is delivered in partnership with Scottish Government, Scottish Forestry, and the Scottish Land Commission and is taking place in the Tweed Forum area.

Further information

Tweed Valley from South-east of Walkerburn looking to Juniper Bank

Contact details

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