Public sector and third sector category
Forest Enterprise England (FEE) is responsible for managing England’s national woods and forests, which is the largest land resource in the country. It aims to be an international leader in delivering and demonstrating sustainable, integrated land management.
Developing a corporate natural capital account helped capture the wider value of the benefits delivered by woods and forests that conventional financial approaches do not. It provides information in an accounting format that can inform strategic business decisions concerning current and future management of natural capital. It represents a way to better connect the overall financial and natural capital performance of the estate as a whole.
Forest Enterprise England has led the market through the development of their organisation-level corporate natural capital account. This ground-breaking work is pioneering the way in which ‘natural capital’ management data is brought together to inform strategic decision making. Using the Natural Capital Committee’s natural capital account framework, FEE created a structured and transparent way of quantifying the full value of the services provided by the natural assets in its care and the impact of their management. The finance function played a significant role in interpreting and explaining the outputs but many experts were needed to provide the information required to develop the account.
Some of the challenges for this project still exist because it is an evolving concept. It was difficult to obtain valuations for each of the benefits provided by England’s national woods and forests and so the account remains partial. It also still needs to be properly embedded with staff to convince them of the long-term benefits a natural capital account will bring in terms of strategic decision making.
Forest Enterprise England has established a robust, effective process for incorporating non-financial factors into the way the performance of the organisation is reported and decisions about its operations and strategy are made. The process is systematic, repeatable and its outputs are discussed at board level, which enables stronger decision making based on reliable information.