Why use the NEAT Tree in Natural Environment professions?

  • To move out of our Natural Environment silos and start to view the environment and nature more holistically
  • To look at the bigger picture (place, people and environment) within which a particular policy, plan, project or programme (PPPP) is set, recognising interrelationships and dependencies
  • To identify opportunities to embed nature within decision-making processes to improve growth and development interests
  • To secure greater certainty for investment because more complex and longer-term outcomes are clearer and agreed from the start

Reasons to apply the Ecosystem Approach

Recognise nature’s value

There are a range of regulatory hooks that show a shift towards recognising the natural environment as an asset, both economically and intrinsically. European legislation (e.g. Water Framework Directive, Habitats and Birds Directives) and national policy (e.g. Natural Environment White Paper 2011 and Biodiversity 2020) provide action plans for engaging with ecosystem services.

The National Planning Policy Framework also provides opportunities to engage with ecosystem services within the development plan process (Local Plan), involving Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) processes and local plan consultations.

Connections across landscapes

Applying the Ecosystem Approach and engaging with ecosystem services facilitates more holistic consideration of the environment as part of an interlinked system.  This encourages better connections across landscapes and the consideration of whole ecosystems, rather than protecting habitats and species within defined boundaries.

Climate & environmental change

The impacts of climate and environmental change over the next decades are probably the most important policy and practice challenges at any decision-making level from local to global.

This is already reflected in business risk appraisals and mitigation and adaptation actions becoming firmly enshrined in policies and plans. Attention to the Ecosystem Approach provides a holistic framework to assess any new proposal, with the NEAT Tree offering guidance on suitable tools and processes.