United Kingdom (UK) National Ecosystem Assessment


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National
Country or countries covered United Kingdom
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

The assessment covered England, Northern Ireland, Wales & Scotland

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

  • To produce an independent and peer-reviewed UK National Ecosystem Assessment for the whole of the UK.

  • To raise awareness of the importance of the natural environment to human well-being and economic prosperity.

  • To ensure full stakeholder participation and encourage different stakeholders and communities to interact and, in particular, to foster better inter-disciplinary cooperation between natural and social scientists, as well as economists.

Mandate for the assessment

Following the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), the House of Commons Environmental Audit recommended the Government conduct an ecosystem assessment for the UK to enable the identification and development of effective policy responses to ecosystem service degradation.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

Bateman, I.J., Mace, G.M., Fezzi, C., Atkinson, G. & Turner, K. (2011) Economic analysis for ecosystem service assessments. Environmental and resource economics, 48 (2). pp. 177-218. ISSN 0924-6460.

Mace, G.M et al. (2011) Conceptual Framework and Methodology. In: The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Technical Report. UK National Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge.

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Microorganisms, Fungi and Lichens, Phytoplankton, Macroalgae, Bryophytes, Seagrasses, Land plants, Invertebrates, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals.

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Timber/fibres
  • Genetic resources
  • Medicinal resources
  • Ornamental resources


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Waste treatment
  • Erosion prevention
  • Pollination
  • Pest and disease control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Environmental settings

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


UK NEA Synthesis Report

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 01: Introduction

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 02: Conceptual Framework and Methodology

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 03: Drivers of Change in UK Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 04: Biodiversity in the Context of Ecosystem Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 05: Mountains, Moorlands and Heath

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 06: Semi-Natural Grasslands

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 07: Enclosed Farmland

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 08: Woodlands

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 09: Freshwaters: Openwaters, Wetlands and Floodplains

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 10: Urban

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 11: Coastal Margins

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 12: Marine

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 13: Supporting Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 14: Regulating Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 15: Provisioning Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 16: Cultural Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 17: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: England

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 18: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: Northern Ireland

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 19: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: Scotland

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 20: Status and changes in ecosystems and their services to society: Wales

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 21: UK Dependency on Non-UK Ecosystem Services

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 22: Economic Values from Ecosystems

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 23: Health Values from Ecosystems

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 24: Shared Values for the Contributions Ecosystem Services Make to Human Well-being

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 25: Scenarios: Development of Storylines and Analysis of Outcomes

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 26: Valuing Changes in Ecosystem Services: Scenario Analyses

UK NEA Technical Report - Chapter 27 Response Options

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

UK NEA Brochure

UK NEA Postcard

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

The 10 UKNEA Follow-on Work Package reports can be found at http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/Resources/tabid/82/Default.aspx

UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on (2014) The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on: Synthesis of the Key Findings. UNEP-WCMC, LWEC, UK.

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

  • Selected 20 member User Group.
  • Country-level stakeholder meetings as part of the Scenarios development.
  • Wider stakeholder meetings to review outputs.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities; Environment Agency; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Local Government Association; Natural England; Scottish Environment Protection Authority; Scottish Natural Heritage; Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment; RSPB / Wildlife Countryside Link; Scottish Environment Link; Wildlife Trust; National Trust; Mineral Products Association; EDF Energy; Association of Electricity Producers / RWE npower; National Farmers Union; Water UK; Scottish Fishermen's Federation; Communities and Local Government; Her Majesty's Treasury; Department of Health; Forestry Commission

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Mixed some in public domain, some required a paid license

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The UK NEA provided part of the the evidence base for the UK Government's White Paper on the Natural Environment - 'The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature', which was published in 2011.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

A clear conceptual framework can be a useful communication tool to engage other government departments

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment


Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Access to funding, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

The UK NEA delivered a wealth of information on the state, value (economic and social) and possible future of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems across the UK, but also identified a number of key uncertainties. Therefore, the Government committed to adding to this knowledge base by supporting a two-year long follow-on (FO) phase of the UK NEA. The FO phase developed and promoted the arguments that the UK NEA put forward and make them applicable to decision and policy making at a range of spatial scales across the UK to a wide range of stakeholders.

Results of UK NEAFO were published in 2014. It had three high level aims: 1) Further our understanding of the economic and social value of nature; 2) Develop tool and products to operationalise the Ecosystem Approach; and 3) Support the inclusion of natural capital in the UK's National Accounts.

Specifically, the UK NEAFO furthered understanding in four areas: Economic analysis, Cultural ecosystem services, Future ecosystem changes, and tools and supporting materials to communicate the messages and findings from the UK NEA and FO to different audiences.

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

As part of the UK NEA Follow-on (FO) phase (2012-2014) short reports of the findings were co-developed with different audiences and end users. These audiences were: national government departments, government agencies, local authorities, the general public, businesses, environmental non-governmental organisations, and the research community. These reports summarised what each group can do to implement the ecosystem services framework and realise more sustainable benefits. The reports can be found in the UK NEAFO Synthesis Report.

Additional relevant information