Suffolk Marine Pioneer

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been chosen to host one of only four Pioneer projects, set to influence how the rest of the country considers the natural environment over the next 25 years.

The Suffolk Marine Pioneer will be trialling the ‘natural capital approach’ to inform and influence the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, announced by Theresa May on Thursday 11th January 2018.

The Suffolk Marine Pioneer will explore how the natural capital approach works in practice be examining Suffolk’s marine features, habitats and wildlife that provide a valued benefit to the people living and working at the coast.

On this page you will learn about:

  • What is the Suffolk Marine Pioneer?
  • Why is the Marine Pioneer set in Suffolk?
  • Who is working on the Marine Pioneer?
  • How will the Marine Pioneer deliver?
  • When is the Pioneer going to make an impact?

The natural environment provides us with many benefits, but can only do so if it the habitats and features of the environment are in good condition. To ensure the environment is maintained in a good condition, it is important not to overreach our use of the benefits provided by nature. This means managing the environment in a sustainable way.

Traditionally, humans have accepted the benefits provided for by nature. We have then used them to prosper and develop. Benefits may be easy to recognise and quantify - like fish from the sea, or timber from trees. More commonly however, it is very difficult to value environmental benefits, because of the complexity of natural processes working to deliver them.

Because nature is difficult to value, it is often given a default value of zero when it comes to economic decision making, meaning that over time, the state, quality or scale of the environment degrades piece by piece.

The idea behind the natural capital approach is to ensure the benefits we obtain from the natural environment are valued, and so accounted for in decision making. By recognising the value of nature in our decision making, we are much more likely to protect that benefit, which means we are much more likely to enhance the natural environments providing those benefits.

This logic underpins the Government’s plan for leaving the natural environment in a better state in 25 years time that it is now. The Suffolk Marine Pioneer offers business, community and the public sector a chance to lead the way forward to a better, greener tomorrow.

What is the Suffolk Marine Pioneer?

The Suffolk Marine Pioneer is one of four projects, established by DEFRA to inform the Government’s commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural environment so that it can be passed on to future generations in a better condition than it is now.

This commitment and the role of the Marine Pioneer was set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, announced by Theresa May on Thursday 11th January 2018.

The Pioneer will test and develop new, ground-breaking approaches to environmental management and decision-making. DEFRA has asked the Pioneers to develop new ways to fund the management and enhancement of natural resources. Lessons learned here in Suffolk will then be shared with the rest of the country.

Why is the Marine Pioneer set in Suffolk?

DEFRA established the Pioneer projects with the aim of testing new and novel mechanisms to management the natural environment. As a collective of 5 sites, the Pioneer projects test these mechanisms across important environments across the UK.

Two sites were selected for the Marine Pioneer, One in Suffolk and one in North Devon. Other Pioneers examine other types of environment including; a river catchment in Cumbria, the landscape of North Devon; and the urban area of Greater Manchester.

The Suffolk coast was chosen for a number of reasons, not least because of the diversity and variety of environment that Suffolk houses. Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Chair, Cllr David Woods makes the case very well;

“The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is delighted to be one of the forerunners to test the 25 Year Environment plan. The Suffolk Marine Pioneer offers an opportunity to recognise the long and successful history of environmental innovation on the Suffolk Coast and a chance to share learning more widely. The richness and diversity of our local marine environment, allied with the skills and experience of those working for it presents the ideal setting for the Marine Pioneer to take steps to reach the goal of leaving the natural environment in a better state than we found it.”

Who is working on the Marine Pioneer?

The Marine Pioneer is being coordinated strategically by the Marine Management Organisation and is directed locally by the Suffolk Pioneer Steering Group. The Steering group comprises of representatives from the conservation sector, local government, fisheries organisations and the statutory nature conservation bodies who have been instrumental in defining how the Suffolk Marine Pioneer will deliver.

The Marine Pioneer will be working with communities and businesses throughout its tenure.

For more information on the Pioneer or to find out about how you or your organisation might like to get involved with the project, please contact the Suffolk Pioneer Project Manager - Peter Cosgrove on peter.cosgrove@suffolk.gov.uk or telephone 07860 831 801

How will the Marine Pioneer deliver?

The Pioneer will work with communities, businesses and the public sector to explore ways in which joint working can produce multiple benefits for the local environment, people and business. The Pioneer will do this by channelling its workplan through 5 project initiatives to demonstrate how the creative, intelligent and can-do approach of Suffolk can offer an example for elsewhere.

The Suffolk Marine Pioneer will share its examples of best practice and any recommendations it has with its sister pioneer projects in Devon, Cumbria and Manchester as well as with government who are looking to develop their 25-year plan to leave the environment in a better state than it was around the findings of the Pioneer.

Figure 1 illustrates how the Pioneer intends to work with different project initiatives to examine the objectives asked of it.

When is the Pioneer going to make an impact?

The Suffolk Marine Pioneer was established to inform the development and implementation of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, The Pioneer started work in June 2017 with funding to deliver findings and recommendations over 2 years to 2019.

The outputs of the Pioneer are expected to feed into local and national learning, with the possibility of each recommendation made within Suffolk influencing positive changes for the entire country over the next 25 years.

 

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