As stewards of over 130,000 acres of land, the Duchy has an amazing breadth of habitat types, from the high moor of Dartmoor through to unique glacial ponds in Herefordshire. Our goal is not only to protect these special places but actively to increase stocks of natural capital across the Estate in a way that respects the landscape, creates genuine opportunities for wildlife and also enables sustainable and viable farming businesses to continue to provide food.
To achieve this, we have an in-house team including ecologists, land agents and soil specialists who work alongside our farm tenants to record the baseline position and identify where enhancement opportunities exist and then provide practical support to help delivery.
We are of course not starting from a blank sheet. Natural capital is a relatively new phrase to describe how we account for and value the environmental assets on farms. It is something the Duchy and our farmers have been delivering for many years whether it be planting new hedges, preserving our valuable uplands or seeking to improve habitat for wildlife.
The scale of the Natural Capital audit alone is significant; with over 130,000 acres of land across 17 counties, there is a lot of ground to cover. Over the last two years, the natural capital team have audited 50% of the Estate and are working with our farmers to agree the most sustainable way to deliver ambitious natural capital enhancement.