South West Marine Natural Capital Conference 2017
  • Exeter Racecourse, Exeter EX6 7XS

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Businesses and organisations with links to the South West marine industry are invited to learn more about the increasingly significant concept of ‘natural capital’, and value natural capital approaches can add to both business and our local environment.

The Devon Maritime Forum has teamed up with the North Devon Marine Pioneer (North Devon Biosphere Reserve), the SWEEP project (Plymouth University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Exeter), and the UK SEAS project (WWF) to organise and host the first event of its kind - the South West Marine Natural Capital Conference 2017.

The event will provide an excellent opportunity for businesses and interested stakeholders to learn more about natural capital, the natural capital approach, and the region’s marine and coastal assets.

Natural Capital

While it remains to be seen the extent to which there is cross-party commitment to the much anticipated and leaked Defra 25 year plan, there has no doubt been considerable investment over recent years in the notion of natural capital and the natural capital approach, which has seen the concept gaining in currency and begin to establish itself firmly in policy, if not, as yet, in public discourse. Building on and incorporating ideas and practices associated with the ecosystems approach and ecosystem services, and championed by a range of organisations and individuals – not least of which the Natural Capital Committee – the natural capital approach offers a new way of thinking about, valuing, and managing the natural environment, that puts the environment and environmental assets at the heart of economic decision making.

South West Marine Natural Capital 

As a region the South West of England is hugely dependent on its natural capital, and particularly its marine natural capital, for its economic prosperity. Its outstanding marine environment and abundant marine assets provide the natural capital upon which many key regional industries, including the fishing/aquaculture; marine renewable; and marine and coastal tourism/leisure sectors, are built. Given the scale and importance of marine natural capital to the South West’s economy combined with the region’s world leading expertise in marine science and environmental economics it is not surprising that the South West of England has emerged as a global pioneer in implementing and testing the natural capital approach.

The conference

Central to the day will be the showcasing of three projects that have the future of the South West’s marine economy at their heart: DEFRA North Devon Marine PioneerSouth West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) and the WWF UK Seas project. 

Attendees can learn about and engage with all the individual projects, and have the opportunity to explore their common themes, challenges and ambitions. Representatives from Plymouth University's Marine Institute will discuss their involvement in the SWEEP project.

The conference will also provide an unrivalled opportunity to meet and network with members and associates of the largest cross-sectoral marine and coastal partnership in the region.


Tickets are free, but places must be reserved in advance as demand is expected to be high - please register your place via the above link.

Speaker: Tony Juniper

Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, sustainability advisor, and leading British environmentalist. Tony has written several books, including the multi-award winning best-seller What has Nature ever done for us?, and works as a Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit. Tony will kick-start the morning sessions with his introduction to what natural capital does for us in the UK.

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Today's events

Devon Maritime Forum (DMF)

The DMF is an independent, not-for-profit partnership organisation with a unique role: bringing together the broad and diverse range of organisations and individuals who have a stake or interest in marine and coastal issues in Devon and the wider South West peninsula.

The DMF was formed in 2005 with a view to guiding and co-ordinating cross-sectoral cooperation and to act as a point of contact for all maritime sectors, promoting understanding, sharing challenges and building consensus. It operates as a ‘champion of the sea’, encouraging engagement with a wide range of issues and raising the profile of marine and maritime concerns. It also provides a range of services that improve integration and facilitate communication between our network of marine and coastal stakeholders, promoting debate and working collectively toward sustainability on our coasts and seas. 

The DMF is a free-to-join organisation, and holds conferences and workshops throughout the year that are open are members and the public.

Further information:

North Devon Biosphere Reserve

Reaching to the heights of Dartmoor and Exmoor and via the sea to Lundy, North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is one of 669 reserves in 120 countries designated by UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme and was the first of six to be designated in the UK. All exist to inspire a positive future by connecting people and nature.

Developing partnerships and managing projects for a sustainable future in north Devon, the North Devon Biosphere team work to maintain our world class environment and the high quality of life we get from it.

Further information:

South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP)

SWEEP is a new initiative that will help deliver economic and community benefits to the South West, whilst also protecting and enhancing the area's natural resources.

A collaboration of three research institutions - Plymouth University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and led by the University of Exeter, SWEEP is funded by Natural Environment Research Council. It aims to bring academic experts, businesses and policy makers together to solve some of the challenges involved in managing, utilising and improving the natural environment.

Together with our partners in industry and the community, SWEEP will develop bespoke tools and solutions that will aid decision-making, and support the management of our natural environment.

Further information: or contact Samantha Starkey, SWEEP Communications Officer.

UK SEAS project (WWF)

Marine Protected Areas – known as MPAs – are eareas at sea where habitats and species are protected by managing and controlling the activities that take place in them. Currently around 17% of UK waters are included in some form of MPA, comprising nearly 300 individual sites. Their success, though, depends entirely on their practical management. Right now, more needs to be done.

WWF has been working for over 20 years to secure an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in the UK. UK seas need ecosystem-based planning, which protects the wider environment while encouraging sustainable development. That means bringing together government, regulators, marine industries, NGOs and local communities to make it happen. WWF SEAS is an exciting project focusing on MPA management and financing. WWF is aiming to help bring the UK's MPA network to completion, promoting top level planning, clear objectives, strong management and proper enforcement throughout UK waters.

Further information:

Event photography and video
Please be aware that some of the University of Plymouth's public events may be attended by University photographers and videographers, for capturing content to be used in University online and offline marketing and promotional materials, for example webpages, brochures or leaflets. If for whatever reason, you or a member of your group, do not wish to be photographed, please make yourself known to staff working at the event on arrival or to the photographer.