Common Assessment Framework

In addition to trialling specific methods to improve landscapes, the CANAPE partners are all to some extent engaged in considering how to approach peatlands at a landscape level, including working with local communities to consider the economic and social issues across the entire area, rather than just a single site.

For instance, when considering a large area like Store Vildmose, the CANAPE pilots cover only a few hectares. However, Naturstyrelsen has to consider how to work with partners to manage nearly 1,000ha of peatland in a range of uses. This includes a near natural bog, grasslands managed for grazing and peat extraction sites. Not all of this land is suitable for paludiculture or restoration, and many jobs and businesses rely on the current use.

Small black plastic trays containing potatoes on a conveyor belt, moving away from a packing machine in a factory.

Potato packing - growing potatoes and other vegetables is a common business in peat areas, creating important jobs and producing substantial amounts of food. Packing factories like the one pictured represent a significant capital investment for the farmer. This productivity has to be considered when thinking about peatland landscapes, alongside the flooding and GHG emission issues. 

The Common Assessment Framework tool uses a “Natural Capital Asset Check” approach to look at the benefits people currently receive or could receive from the natural environment in a defined geographical area.

Within this exercise, Natural capital includes all natural resources in air, water, sea, land and below-ground that support human societies. This definition is adapted from “Towards a risk register for natural capital” Mace et al, 2015

For instance, if an area is low lying, it would in a natural environment benefit from the water storage and sponge like effect of a peatland. If the peat in the area has been lost, then the potential benefit to the community of that peatland is lost.

The Assessment method 

Using the assessment method, each major habitat type in the assessment area is identified. For example, woodland, bog, grassland, open water. If relevant this could be further sub-divided - ancient woodland and conifer plantation. 

Then the ecosystem services provided by each habitat are identified - for instance a plantation woodland provides timber, habitat, some protection against flooding. 

The third step is to assess if this service is at risk, and if so, whether the risk is increasing or decreasing. 

This gives an overall view of the various services provided, and those at most risk of being lost. 

The Assessments

Within the Scope of the project, 5 Assessment’s have been carried out. The areas assessed are;

-        The Broads National Park (UK)

-        Dummer Mire Basin (DE)

-        Grenspark (BE)

-        Valthermond (NL)

-        Store Vildmose (DK)

 The Peer Review

Once partners had carried out their assessments, a process of peer review was used to improve the assessment and identify common issues and solutions that could be applied to the partners sites. This showed there was a lot of commonality in issues facing natural areas around the project area, and gave inspirations for each other’s work in addressing these issues.

Tools and resources

-        Guide for carrying out a Natural Capital Asset Check

For further information on how to carry out your own assessment please contact