22 Apr 2024


This call for evidence/knowledge builds upon recent knowledge exchange work funded by theNatural Environment Research Council 2017-2021. My project web site is here.https://mainstreaminggreeninfrastructure.com/As part of my sabbatical (February to July 2024), Northumbria University are funding me tofurther develop this mainstreaming work with a focus switching towards the successful deliveryof mainstreaming nature, unpacking the key ingredients that have led to successful policy andpractice interventions.This phase of work is focused primarily on policy and practice communities and researcherswho have operated as “pracademics”.

The call for evidence revolves around three mainstreaming challenges.

Successful engagement with key economic and social stakeholders on natureHow and when to successfully engage people working outside the environmental sector innature and environment policy and initiatives is a challenge as all too often such initiatives tendto involve the usual environmental suspects operating within their comfort zones (silos).Understanding the mechanisms and approaches that have been used to bring diverseaudiences to nature’s table successfully and then how these audience voices have beenmanaged in workshops/visits/webinars are all neglected considerations. I am especially keen togather evidence on what works best to get that initial engagement and how can you maintainthat engagement for the long-term and what strategies are then used to design/deliver outputs?

Joining-up and simplifying the complexity of environmental concepts and plansThe natural environment involves a complex vocabulary and ever-growing list of concepts thatspecialists and stakeholders alike have to grapple with, understand, use, deliver and enforce.These include natural capital, ecosystem services, environment net gain, biodiversity net gain,local nature recovery networks, local nature recovery strategies, green belts, green and blueinfrastructure and nature-based solutions.These concepts have all been introduced at different times and for different purposes andgenerally have been worked on in specialist silos. This raises the wider question of how wellthese different concepts are joined-up in delivery agencies and within wider environmentalpolicy and plans to maximize societal and environmental benefits?As identified by the RTPI and Broadway initiative, the number of different environmental plansand strategies is seen as confusing, unhelpful, diluting the communication of the power andvalue of nature to wider stakeholders. This resulted in the proposal of Local EnvironmentalImprovement Plans to improve coordination, coherence and impact as part of a revampedenvironmental planning agenda.I am keen to understand how those active in policy and delivery see this challenge and whatinitiatives at a local level have been undertaken to try and simplify or integrate a coherentenvironmental policy across the different environmental plans. Are LEIPS the best way forward?

Case studies of good practice : unpacking the power of the processIn many publications, strategies or policy briefs case studies play an important role in bringingthe text to life. Here they rightly focus on the outcomes and what happened, focusing on thepositives. I wish to gather evidence from case studies a slightly different tact; to target exemplarcase studies but with a focus on HOW they became successful (their journey), looking in detailat the process by which the success stage was reached with some personal reflection fromthose involved. A recent joint publication of mine looking at this with regard to planning forgreen and blue infrastructure used this approach. From this type of process-based work we canthen identify the common and bespoke ingredients. Thus, case studies should take a historicalview of the entire journey and identify the drivers that led to advances and success.


All comments are greatly appreciated - please help mainstream green infrastructure by adding to the conversation.