NaturEtrade creating a marketplace for ecosystem services

A LIFE+ project funded by the EU and the University of Oxford

latest news

NaturEtrade Video

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on May 22nd, 2019

We commissioned Nice Tree Films to create a video about NaturEtrade and had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with Clare Holt, Kate de Ban and Mya Padgett filming interviews with members of the project team and showing the tool in action in a landscape in Oxfordshire. Mya was able to capture aerial images of the mixed landscape with her drone, overcoming challenges of low-flying fighter planes circling the area. The filming attracted a lot of interest from passing walkers who highly value the recreational value of the area. Nice Tree Films also created the LEFT video, which is on this website, and the two videos will be an excellent legacy of the project. The picture shows Peter Long preparing for his interview in very strong sunlight - an unexpected challenge of filming in May in the UK!

Image: Gill Petrokofsky

NaturEtrade team seek feedback

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on January 30th, 2019

As NaturEtrade draws to an end of its demonstration phase (December 2018), we are seeking feedback on the tool and asking people to provide us with a little feedback through a short online survey.  We share here the news item prepared by Sylva Foundation - a key partner in the LIFE+ funded project - inviting people to play with NaturEtrade (mapping their own land or land parcels known to them), explore how businesses might interact with the tool to find land owners or managers to sponsor, and let us have feedback. There are very few questions in the survey - and most of them are optional - but we really do want you to try out the mapping and let us know how you get on. 

From Sylva Foundation news: 

Over the last five years Sylva Foundation has been collaborating with departments at the University of Oxford to create a marketplace for ecosystem services. The Naturetrade project was funded by the EU’s Life programme. The project has now come to a close and the project consortium is keen to hear from current and potential users about the online marketplace. Please read on to find out more and how to take the survey

We are now ready to test it on a wider audience of land managers and businesses with an interest in supporting sustainability. Your feedback on the mapping tool will be of help to us in developing ideas to take this forward from a demonstration project to a useable tool that will help supplement finance schemes aimed at preventing the loss of ecologically-diverse land in Europe.
We have prepared a very short survey that is split into two parts: (a) questions to establish what your relationship to land management in Europe is; and (b) feedback on the tool. We invite you to test the mapping capability of NaturEtrade and its potential to assess the ecosystem services of your land, or to test the possibility of finding land on the system that you can sponsor via a contract for maintaining ecosystem services. Two small caveats: we demonstrate how money can be exchanged via contracts to maintain ecosystem services, but no monetary transactions are being processed during this demonstration phase; and land parcels already published on the demonstration site are either taken directly from the UK Land Registry or have been hand-drawn in workshops. We do not own these properties.

Thanks for supporting NaturEtrade these last 5 years - we look forward to future connections.

NaturEtrade signs off at BES

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on December 20th, 2018

Peter Long presented LEFT and NaturEtrade possibly for the last time at the British Ecological Society's annual conference (17-19 Dec) in a talk entitled 'Environmental decision support tools' . The tools were again well-received and we are hopeful that we can develop useful collaborations going forward with friends and colleagues who have shared knowledge and ideas with us over the years at BES.

Image: BES Twitter feed

Stakeholder workshop in Sighisoara, Romania

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 15th, 2018

Paul Orsi and Peter Long travelled to Sighisoara in the heart of Transylvania, Romania on 15th Nov to hold a workshop on NaturEtrade with a very diverse set of stakeholders including farmers, NGOs, academics, local authorities, government and international organisations.  We were particularly keen to come to Romania because of the prevalence of high nature value farmland, such as traditional oak pastures which have very high biodiversity and are used for extensive agriculture. We presented the Naturetrade system and received some very constructive feedback.  The meeting was also an opportunity to hear about WWF's rewilding work in Romania and the Interreg BIOGOV project.

Thanks to our hosts Fundatia ADEPT for making all the local arrangements for the workshop.  We managed to make a quick visit into the countryside after the meeting to the village of Viscri to see the fortified Saxon church, the cows coming home by themselves in the evening, and to try some craft beer.

NaturEtrade in New Orleans

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on August 10th, 2018

Peter Long attended the ESA Annual Meeting, August 5–10 in New Orleans to present NaturEtrade and share ideas with other delegates, many of whom were from outside the USA, as usual. The theme of the conference again touched on interactions with human health & wellbeing "Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being", a development possibility for NaturEtrade.

Image: ESA website

Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on July 31st, 2018

In work closely related to NaturEtrade, involving Gillian Petrokofsky and Gabriel Hemery, the views of a range of land managers and woodland owners in England about the concept of payments for ecosystem services were explored. The work, led by [UK] Forest Research was an extension of British Woodlands Survey 2017 undertaken by Sylva Foundation in collaboration with OxLEL and the Woodland Trust.

The main findings were that many land managers were not familiar with the term ecosystem services or the concept of payments for ecosystem services. However, they did often recognise that their woodlands could provide a range of benefits to society. Quantifying forest services and benefits was thought to be particularly difficult in considering the design of any schemes that might provide payment for these services and benefits. Report citation:

Report citation: O’Brien, L. Ambrose-Oji, B. Hemery, G. Petrokofsky, G. Raum, S. 2018. Payments for ecosystem services, land manager networks and social learning.(pdf) Forest Research, Farnham.

Image:Forest research

NaturEtrade NFM: an exciting flood alleviation auction trial

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on July 27th, 2018

Farmers in the River Tone and River Parrett catchments within Somerset, UK can bid online for public money for works to help stop flooding in a new trial coordinated by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG), the Environment Agency, and Natural England.  The trial, which will run from July 23rd until Sunday, August 12th, is of an innovative new online auction tool for land management measures, called NaturEtrade NFM. Funding is available for six natural flood management measures. If the auction is successful, it will help to shape future support for sustainable farming and food production. It is designed to test a more flexible and farmer-driven approach to delivering outcomes of public benefit, such as cleaner water, more sustainable soils, increased biodiversity, and carbon storage.

NaturEtrade NFM is a simple online auction tool, on which farmers and land managers can bid for funding to deliver a selection of Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures. It will allow farmers to select locations on their farm where they would like to implement these measures, and will allow them to bid an amount it would cost for them to provide these measures.

The most competitive bids will receive funding from Somerset Rivers Authority. The initiative has built on developments and thinking in NaturEtrade, the LIFE+ funded project which has been running in OxLEL since 2012.

This post was adapted from the one published on OxLEL's News page.

Pagamento por serviços do ecossistema (PSE) - explorando novas fontes de rendimento

posted by Alistair Yeomans on July 9th, 2018

We held a very succesful stakeholder workshop on 9th July at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Tapada da Ajuda near Lisbon.

We publicized the event in English and Portuguese and were rewarded with a diverse group of people interested in NaturEtrade. Here is the Portuguese description of the workshop:

Este seminário demonstrará como uma plataforma web de deteção remota pode apresentar oportunidades para os proprietários receberem pagamentos pelos serviços do ecosistema nas suas terras, por exemplo: armazenamento de carbono, serviços de polinização e proteção do solo.

Este mercado em crescimento foi recentemente impulsionado no Reino Unido pelo Plano de 25 Anos do Governo para o Ambiente (2018). Este workshop tem como objetivo explorar como esta tecnologia pode ser usada para criar fontes de rendimento adicionais para os proprietários florestais em Portugal. As apresentações serão feitas em lingua inglesa.

Securing the natural environment

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on May 25th, 2018

Peter Long presented a talk on 'NaturEtrade: creating a marketplace for ecosystem services' at the BES/UK Conservation Agencies Symposium: Securing Our Natural Environment for Future Generations. The meeting brought together policy officials, practitioners, natural and social scientists from across the UK and internationally to set the direction for nature conservation in the UK. The conference Twitter feed shows some of the presentations (though sadly not Peter's) #N4FG18

Image: BES website

4th Interreg Cooperation Forum

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 25th, 2018

Peter Long attended the  fourth interregional (Interreg) cooperation forum 'Europe, let's cooperate!' on 22 March in Brussels. There were over 200 people at the forum, including academics, local government civil servants and business people from across Europe. He talked about NaturEtrade and received very positive feedback on the usefulness of the project for land use assessment. Conclusions of the event are on the Interreg website.

Image: Interreg twitter feed. 

Peter Long selected for RSE Fellowship Showcase

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 15th, 2018

Peter Long was selected to present the work of his 12-month Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Enterprise Fellowship as one of 12 recipients of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's and Royal Academy of Engineering's Enterprise Fellowship programmes. Petr presented 'Web-based environmental decision support tools (LEFT and Naturetrade)'. Presentations were followed by a panel discussion chaired by Sir Mark Walport. it was a great opportunity for presenting NaturEtrade to highly relevant people in the UK and a personal honour for Peter. The event was attended by about 100 MPs, members of the House of Lords, civil servants, and business leaders.

Image: RSE website


Measuring Natural Capital Data

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 6th, 2018

Beccy Wilebore and Peter Long presented NaturEtrade at an important seminar organised jointly by the Royal Statistical Society, the Royal Economic Society, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Society of Professional Economists on 5th March. It was part of a wider effort to ensure that UK economic statistics keep pace with the changing shape of modern economies and societies, and continue to meet the needs of users. The seminar discussed the challenges of measuring natural capital. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) presented the most recent results from a work programme begun in 2011 to produce natural capital accounts which will articulate fully with the National Accounts. This work was carried out in cooperation with the Defra, the Natural Capital Committee, the Forestry Commission, and other relevant parties. We strongly believe that NaturEtrade is an ideal tool for monitoring natural capital and associated ecosystem services. 

Image: ONS website

Polish LIFE+ project visit

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on February 26th, 2018

We were pleased to host a meeting of researchers coming to the end of their LIFE+ project (HESOFF) in Poland on 26 Feb. Marcin Spiralski and Kacprzak Mariusz are from the Remote Sensing Department of the Institute of Aviation in Warsaw, Poland. Their research focused on integrating innovative technologies of remote sensing and UAV with innovative methods for forest cultivation. They shared results and ideas on two principal topics and we discussed possible collaborations:

1. Estimation of phosphites effectiveness as elicitors of trees resistance against invasive phytopathogens belonging to genera of Phytophthora.

2. Implementation and introduction into practice new methods of assessment of states of a forest and the effectiveness of cultivation through Imageries from Stratospheric Long Endurance UAV (SLE UAV).

Although there is limited scope for collaboration at this stage, we were very happy to know about this project under the LIFE+ umbrella.


Systematic conservation planning in Turkey

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on January 13th, 2018

Peter Long was invited back to Turkey to lead a workshop on 'Systematic conservation planning taking account of biodiversity and ecosystem services' on 11-12 January 2018 in Bolu. Within the framework of this workshop the following issues were presented: basic concepts on selection of protected areas in SCP and Natura 2000, spatial analysis of threats to species and habitats in the pilot area, gap analysis in the protected areas, opportunities and constraints in the selection of Natura 2000 sites in the pilot area, software used in the framework of the systematic conservation approach, conservation costs in SCP, use of climate change scenarios as a constraint in the selection of Natura 2000, overview of fresh water protection planning in the framework of SCP, and experiences and case studies from different countries; and views and suggestions of participants were received and discussed. The meeting was also of interest to us as we develop ideas on using NaturEtrade to monitor Natura 2000 sites.   

 Image: Natura 2000 website


NaturEtrade discussed in risk disclosure meeting

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on December 19th, 2017

The Space4Climate group ran a breakfast briefing event in partnership with the London Climate Change Partnership on the 19th December which included briefings on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations and current satellite data platforms and products that can support UK based environmental, geo-spatial and financial services organisations in their delivery of environmental and climate financial risk disclosure services. Peter Long presented a short talk on 'Web-based environmental decision support tools (LEFT and NatureErade)', which was well received by the delegates.

The programme, speaker biographies and delegate list is available on the Institute for Environemntal Analystics (IEA) website 

Ecology across borders

posted by Alistair Yeomans on December 14th, 2017

Peter Long gave a presentation on NaturEtrade at 'Ecology across borders', the joint annual meeting of the British Ecological Society (BES), The Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfO), The Netherlands-Flanders Ecology Society (NECOV) and the European Ecological Federation (EEF).  The meeting was held in Ghent, Belgium 11th-14th Dec 2017.   His talk, to a packed room, was well received and there were some good questions.  This meeting provided the opportunity to meet a number of other groups developing models for ecosystem service provision, especially cultural services, and compare our approaches.

Workshop in Estonia

posted by Alistair Yeomans on December 9th, 2017

Peter Long and Alistair Yeomans held a NaturEtrade workshop for a day and a half at the Estonia Ministry of the Environment in Tallinn on 7th and 8th December 2017.   

About 30 delegates attended from the Environment Ministry and its agencies as well as NGOs, private forestry company representatives, land owner representative groups, and academics.   

We explained the concept and scope of the NaturEtrade project and demonstrated the system live using Estonia data. We received many useful questions and feedback.  The Estonian Government is very advanced in how it uses online technologies, and interested in this kind of project.  Delegates were keen to explore the use of cadastral data (as we have done in England and Wales) and will investigate if it is possible to provide these layers from their Government’s GIS system.  

We also received useful comments about how to frame what NT does in terms of describing the trading of ecosystem services.  After in-depth discussion the audience largely seemed comfortable with the concept of sponsoring private landowners to maintain rich ecological land cover (with the consequence of maintaining ES provision for society – pubic good). At this point it is not really clear who the buyers might be in Estonia, other than perhaps government institutions. 

There was some feeling that Estonia might not yet be ready for live NT transactions.  There is an ongoing process of land use planning at municipality level, there may need to be some public engagement to get landowners to understand more about Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services before they would engage with PES systems.  However it was acknowledged that PES is already happening in Europe and that NaturEtrade is presents an efficient way of lowering transaction costs.

Exchanging ideas with Greek LIFE+ visitors

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 30th, 2017

We were pleased to welcome The Greek Task Force for the LIFE Programme (George Protopapas, Kellie Koligiogas, Dr Katerina Koutsovoulou and Dimitris Chomatidis) to Oxford on November 29th. We shared ideas about NaturEtrade and discuss their work in Greece. We had an interesting discussion on the principles of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) and if such an approach as NaturEtrade could work in Greece. The LIFE Task Force will provide relevant know how, assistance and consultation to potential LIFE stakeholders and beneficiaries, at the national, regional and local level, enhancing collaboration among authorities and stakeholders, organizing meetings and workshops at the national and regional level, providing technical assistance for integrated projects, promoting the cooperation in international project proposals and the involvement of the private sector in co-financing of projects.


LEFT paper published & source code released

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on October 27th, 2017

Published today in Methods in Ecology & Evolution the most recent paper describing our Local Ecological Footprinting Tool- ' LEFT - A web‐based tool for the remote measurement and estimation of ecological value across global landscape' describes the science behind web‐based tool that can provide quickly obtained quantitative data on ecological risk to assist landowners when making land‐use change decisions. It is a sister-tool to NaturEtrade and informed much of its technical development. Unlike the Europe-focussed NaturEtrade, LEFT works for almost any region in the world. It uses freely available satellite imagery, biotic and abiotic data from existing global databases, models and algorithms to deliver a customised report for a selected area within one hour of job submission. Both tools have been designed to be intuitive to use, requiring no specialised software or user expertise. Input is extremely easy and requires the user to highlight the area of interest on a map or using grid co‐ordinates. The source code for LEFT is available in a Zenodo repository (url provided in the paper). 

NaturEtrade goes (further) West

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on August 17th, 2017

Peter Long presented Naturetrade at the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGEO) Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conference, held 14th-18th Aug 2017, in Boston, USA. This was important engagement with developers of the geospatial software libraries which power NaturEtrade.This conference is key to keeping abreast of new developments in the many software libraries which underpin the Naturetrade web-based tool.  Our end users (landowners and purchasers of ecosystem services) who interact with the Naturetrade website don't see the software stack, but their user experience requires some magic behind the scenes to perform environmental modelling and serve up data to users.   FOSS4G is the global meeting for the developers of all the technologies used in Naturetrade, and this was a chance to explore the cutting edge of new possibilities for environmental web services which have now been made possible by developments in software.  In turn, the developers are very interested to learn about environmental use-cases for their software, such as Naturetrade.   This was also an important opportunity for networking with people who have built successful businesses upon free and open spatial data and geospatial software, which has been helpful in planning for the afterlife of the Naturetrade LIFE project.  Travel was supported by NERC. 

NaturEtrade in Cambridge

posted by Alistair Yeomans on May 15th, 2017

Beccy Wilebore and Peter Long presented on NaturEtrade and exhibited LEFT at the 'Decision support tools in conservation' workshop on 15th May in Cambridge. A report of the meeting was published in the journal Research Ideas and Outcomes and can be accessed here.

Image:David Rose, whose blog of the event can be read here.

NaturEtrade at LIFE platform meeting on ecosystem services, Estonia

posted by Alistair Yeomans on May 10th, 2017

Peter Long was invited to give a plenary talk at the 'LIFE platform meeting on ecosystem services’, Tallinn, Estonia on 10th May 2017.  This was an opportunity to share our experience of developing a scalable web-based system for mapping ecosystem services with representatives from 50 other LIFE projects from across Europe.   There was also extensive discussion of how the degree to which LIFE project enhance ecosystem service provision could be monitored and evaluated.  A final highlight of the meeting was the LIFE networking drinks in a historic bar in Tallinn which served over 600 varieties of Estonian beer, but regrettably there wasn't time to sample them all.

Natural Capital of Street Trees

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on May 8th, 2017

NaturEtrade focusses on non-urban land, but there is clearly a need to apply similar thinking to urban land in pursuit of greater benefit from natural capital. With this in mind, Kathy Willis and Gillian Petrokofsky have written a short discussion piece on the topic of street trees as natural capital: the pros and cons. This was published in Science on 27 April. They concluded that City vegetation can also reduce pollution and improve human health. However, understanding the characteristics of particular species is critical, and planting the wrong species in the wrong places can cause unintended problems.


NaturEtrade goes West (all the way to Wales)

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on April 25th, 2017

Peter Long gave a presentation on NaturEtrade at the joint BES-BESS Ecosystem Services meeting,on 24th-25th April in Cardiff. The title of the meeting was 'Advances in Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services' and Peter's talk fitted well with themes on developments in novel  methodologies  in Earth Observation and in GIS-based  approaches, and the challenge of cultural ecosystem services. NaturEtrade's approach to both these issues was well received by participants in the meeting.

Image from BES website

NaturEtrade engagement with multinational businesses

posted by Alistair Yeomans on March 28th, 2017

Alistair Yeomans and Peter Long gave a talk and chaired a discussion at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment Business Fellows’ Meeting on 28th Mar 2017 in Oxford. Representatives from Circularity Capital, Mars, PWC, SAB Miller, and Shell participated. This meeting gave a very helpful commercial perspective on possible uptake of Naturetrade by businesses.

Decision-support tools for India

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 10th, 2017

Peter Long was invited to give a talk on 'Environmental decision support tools: applications in India' at a workshop organised by the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development in New Delhi on 21st March. Bringing together over 100 civil servant, academics, business leaders and NGO representatives from across the food, nutrition, social change and environmental sectors, the aim of the event was to enable experts from diverse fragments of the food system to make connections beyond their normal silos; and to use this broad gathering of experts to generate a prioritised list of the ideas, actions or research questions necessary to enable transformative steps to achieve sustainable nutrition. LEFT and NaturEtrade were very well received and though our project is focussed on Europe in the demonstration phase, there is clearly potential in India for a similar product.

Image: Somerville College OCID website

Evenlode catchment - potential for NaturEtrade

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 9th, 2017

Several members of the team were in action at a two-day NERC DTP (Doctoral training Programme) workshop for students with an interest in land management research. The theme of the workshop was 'Delivering environmental, social and economic impacts from academic research: inter-disciplinarity in action: case study of catchment management in the Evenlode Catchment Living Laboratory'. The website Wild Oxfordshire describes the Evenlode catchment : The River rises out of the limestone that underlies the Cotswolds, flowing south-east towards the clay vales of the River Thames. The catchment contains 16 river water bodies including the Evenlode, and major tributaries the Glyme and Dorn. The landscape in this catchment is some of the finest in the county, forming part of the Cotswolds AONB, the remains of the ancient Royal Hunting forest of Wychwood and the World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace. There are many historic market towns such as Chipping Norton, Moreton-in-Marsh and Woodstock. Habitats include oak-ash  woodland, limestone grasslands, lowland meadows and fen, which support a wide range of wildlife. Priority species present in the catchment include remnant populations of our nationally endangered native crayfish, water voles and rare plant species including fen violet and downy woundwort. It was an excellent opportunity to present current problems faced by UK land managers and discuss decision-making solutions created in the research group. Good to showcase our tools to future academics and policy-makers as represented by the doctoral students attending. Alistair Yeomans presented 'NaturEtrade - a web-based scaleable platform for payment for ecosystem services';  Beccy Wilebore presented ''Hydrological modeling in Naturetrade and the Evenlode'; Peter Long presented LEFT, and Gillian Petrokofsky talked about scientific evidence for landscape decision-making. Paul Orsi, Sylva Foundation, also presented their myForest tool.


Image: Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under "Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Licence"

NaturEtrade team relocate

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 3rd, 2017

The Oxford Long-Term Ecology lab has successfully relocated to the Department of Plant Sciences after the sudden closure of the Tinbergen building on Friday 10th February. We would like to thank Professor Liam Dolan, Dr. Roni McGowan along with all of the staff in Plant Sciences for their warm embrace and welcome into the Department. All of our work is now continuing as before.


We are now located in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK in rooms S204-6. Our contact details otherwise remain unchanged.

Considering ecosystem services in systematic conservation planning in Turkey

posted by Alistair Yeomans on February 23rd, 2017

Peter Long was invited to give a keynote talk on NaturRtrade and facilitate at SCP workshops for the Environment Ministry in Ankara, Turkey  22-23 Feb 2017.  This workshop was organized by EuropeAid project 134319/IH/SER/TR.  The government of Turkey is in the process of extending their network of protected areas such that they meet EU Natura 2000 criteria for representation of important biodiversity features.  In this project, initially piloted in Central Anatolia, a Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) procedure is being used to design an optimal protected area network.  The government wishes to take account of ecosystem service provision in this process, which is why the Naturetrade project was approached to share our best practice and data on ecosystem services in Turkey, as well as advising on biodiversity and environmental modelling more generally.

Image: Natura 2000 Turkey

BES 2016 meeting Liverpool

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on December 15th, 2016

Peter Long delivered a talk on 'Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability' in session S18 (Global Change Ecology Adaptation Resistance and Resilience) on Monday 12th December to some 200 academics, students, policy-makers and NGO participants in the annual British Ecological Society conference in Liverpool. The talk was recorded and is available on YouTube (at 45:00 min).

Sustainability standards

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 21st, 2016

Gillian Petrokofsky and Peter Long both spoke at the annual ISEAL Alliance conference/members' week in London 14-18 November. Peter demonstrated LEFT and discussed how tools like LEFT and NaturEtrade could help monitor sustainability through assessing landuse change and associated ecological values. Gillian further discussed how scientific integrity of sustainable standards could be enhanced by robust systematic review of the effects of land management practices. The week was attended by over 200 representatives of multinational businesses as well as NGOs and academics. A lot of interest was expressed in our tools as a cost-effective option for long-term monitoring.


Image: from ISEAL Alliance website


LEFT launches

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on October 7th, 2016

The launch took place at the Oxford Martin School on Friday 7 October. Attendees included land managers, environmental consultants, and parties involved with land-use decision-making in NGOs, alongside a number of academics. Kathy Willis gave an overview of LEFT, before Peter Long talked through the science underpinning the tool, and Paul Lindsell ran through the business model. Further discussion focused on how future developments of LEFT could contribute to environmental risk management in related sectors, such as human health and wellbeing, agriculture and insurance. While the focus was firmly on LEFT, members of the project team were able to talk about NaturEtrade, as a sister tool for ecosystem services assessments.

image: Oxford Martin School

Ecosystem Services conference Antwerp

posted by Alistair Yeomans on September 28th, 2016

Peter Long attended the LIFE and Ecosystem Services Conference 2016 ‘Helping Nature to Help Us’ in Antwerp, Belgium, 19th-23rd September. Peter gave a presentation on NaturEtrade as part of the session S10 ‘LIFE programme supporting societal benefits by restoring and improving ecosystem services – best practice’. His was one of fifteen talks in this session designed to share experiences of improving the mapping, monitoring, assessment and valuation of ecosystem services. 

The meeting generated a lot of discussion and will serve as a preparatory session for the LIFE platform meeting on Ecosystem Services scheduled for Spring 2017.

Ecological Society of America

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on August 12th, 2016

Peter Long gave an oral presentation on 'Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability at the ESA annual meeting, held this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida  between 7th and 12th August. The meeting was attended by over 100 academics and there was opportunity of informal discussions of the environmental assessment tools being developed in Oxford using satellite data and finding out who else is working on similar topics in teh USA and elsewhere. The meeting theme was “Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene which included focus on the new relationships between species arising under the influence of global change, but allowed for broad discussions on land management challenges generally.

NaturEtrade Spring workshop

posted by Alistair Yeomans on April 25th, 2016

A successful workshop for the EU/University of Oxford-funded LIFE+ project NaturEtrade was held on April 22nd at the Sylva Foundation in Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire. Around 30 people attended from a range of organizations with an interest in natural capital, assessing ecosystem services and monitoring environmental change. The workshop covered the motivation for developing resource stewardship tools that combine ease of use with robust behind-the-scenes science to provide land managers with affordable, reliable ways of assessing the natural capital of their land. People at the workshop had the opportunity of trying out the NaturEtrade platform after walking round a particularly rich landscape in Little Wittenham that offered the opportunity of discussing water, pollination, land use, cultural and recreational uses of landscape, and soil erosion, all of which are features of NaturEtrade. The project is working with economists from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School who are helping think about how best to run the sort of auctions that will maximize the impact of NaturEtrade to land owners ‘selling’ ecosystem services and business ‘buying’ these services in a novel way that complements offsetting and current government environmental stewardship funding mechanisms. Inputs from those attending the workshop will be incorporated into developments and improvements in the tool and its promotion to stakeholders.

We are very grateful for the Knowledge Exchange Seed Funding that we received from the University of Oxford in support of this workshop.

Global Water Challenges

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on April 21st, 2016

Peter Long attended a 2-day workshop on 'Water sustainability: global management challenges' at Hatfield College, University of Durham on 19-21 April. He presented a paper on Modelling water-related ecosystem services across Europe and gave demonstrations of NaturEtrade to interested parties at the meeting. Although the focus of the meeting was mostly developing countries, there was interest from Australian delegates in our work and possible contacts for future collaboration. 


Image: Hatfield College website

All Party Parliamentary Party groups

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 24th, 2016

Gillian Petrokofsky attended two meetings ( March 1st and march 24th) in Parliament. The first was for a meeting of the  All Party Parliamentary Water Group, which exists to provide a focus for members to monitor government and regulatory policy and maintain a dialogue with consumers and those with an interest or a duty in relation to the environment and the water industry. This was useful for sharing progress with NaturEtrade’s water layer and to discuss the project with relevant organisations, including Water UK, Future Water Association, Anglian Water, Wessex Water, Southern Water, Plastic Pipes Group, Gemserv, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd. The second was a meeting of the APPG on Biodversity, which we subscribe to for regular opportunities to discuss NaturEtrade and LEFT with interested parties in the UK.

Image: APPG Water website

CIEEM Spring Conference

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 23rd, 2016

Peter Long was invited to  present a keynote talk on web-based tools to map patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem service provision at the Spring conference (23 March) of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Science (CIEEM) in London. he had a very good reception from the 300 ecological consultants and conservation practitioners who attended the conference. We will be in touch with many people who talked separately to Peter about LEFT and NaturEtrade as possible consultant’s tools.

International Atlantic Economic Society meeting

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 20th, 2016

Gillian Petrokofsky attended the meeting in Lisbon on 16th-17th March. The meeting presented an opportunity of discussing environmental issues with economists. Useful contact made with a delegate from Greece (one of our intended caset-study countries) interested in auctions for natural capital and satellite data for practical land management tools. It was also very good to make contact with people from the ISEAL Alliance, whose mission is to improve sustainability standards to address environmental and social challenges, and who are interested in easy-to-use tools with credible science. They are keen to invite us to speak at their forthcoming annual members' week meeting in London. Watch this space!


Image: IAES conference website

'Omics workshop in Edinburgh

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on February 19th, 2016

Peter Long was again in action talking about 'Web-based environmental decision support tools' at a meeting of the NERC-STFC environmental 'Omics workshop on remote sensing to support sustainability and conservation. The workshop recognised that remote sensing technologies have advanced to a potential position of prominence in investigation of biological properties of ecosystems at a large, even global, scale and sought to promote the integration of the technological potential of remote sensing. The intent was to facilitate the matching of existing technologies to large-scale biological investigation and also to highlight scientific and technical challenges for future innovation.

Image: Environmental Omics Synthesis (EOS) website

Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on February 17th, 2016

In work of key importance to the environmental tools developed in OxLEL, members of the NaturEtrade project group (Marc Macias-FauriaPeter LongDavid Benz and Kathy Willis) published a Nature letter on 17 February. They report a novel approach that provides empirical baseline measurements on a key component of ecosystem resilience, namely the relative response of vegetation in comparison to environmental perturbations over time, as well as the climatic drivers of change across landscapes globally.The study found ecologically sensitive regions with amplified responses to climate variability in the Arctic tundra, parts of the boreal forest belt, the tropical rainforest, alpine regions worldwide, steppe and prairie regions of central Asia and North and South America, the Caatinga deciduous forest in eastern South America, and eastern areas of Australia.>

Citation:A W R Seddon et al. Nature 1-4 (2016) doi:10.1038/nature16986 Image: reproduced courtesy of Nature

Catalysing new markets for environmentally-friendly land management

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on February 5th, 2016

Peter Long was invited to talk about NaturEtrade in a meeting of the Green Alliance who organised a fascinating workshop in February exploring the theme of creating new markets for the environmental benefits of land management. He presented NaturEtrade as a project that was aiming to do precisely that. The combination of satellite ('big') data and a platform to map and assess land was received enthusiastically by delegates - mainly people from NGOs.

[post amended in July 2016 to add ] We would like to congratulate Green Alliance for receiving 'Highly Commended' for NGO of the Year at the 2016 Business Green Leaders Awards.

Image: altered (July) to show award, taken from Green Alliance website

We get festive at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting

posted by Alistair Yeomans on December 17th, 2015

Three members of the Oxford Long-term Ecology Lab presented papers at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting which was held 13th - 16th December in Edinburgh including Dr Peter Long who gave an oral presentation "NaturEtrade: creating a marketplace for ecosystem services". The session was well attended and the 20-minute presentation was supplemented by Q&A which extended into the break and afterwards to the bar. Interest was expressed in the underlying data used in the tool by academics working outside the UK, who saw its potential to assess ecological value of land. Gillian Petrokofsky chaired a session on ecological tools and gave a talk at a session on systematic evidence for decision-making.

Another year comes to a close - we wish all our collaborators and enthusiasts a very happy festive season! See you in 2016 for more NaturEtrade news!



Kathy's Life Scientific

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 10th, 2015

Presenter Jim Al-Khalili's popular BBC Radio 4 The Life Scientific show featured Professor Kathy Willis. The interview was wide-ranging and covered Kathy’s academic career in biodiversity focussing on plants and their environments from the New Forest to the Galapagos Islands and all points between: “I’m determined to prove botany is not the ‘Cinderella of science”. She discussed the necessity of knowing the deep history of a landscape before taking policy decisions for its management, and the importance of developing land-use decision-making tools, such as the Local Ecological Footprint Tool (LEFT), to conserve land that is outside protected areas and NaturEtrade, for managed land in Europe. 

This interview follows Kathy's excellent 25-part series – Plants: From Roots to Riches – which first aired on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 21 July 2014. 

The series began by telling the story of how modern botany was born around 1759. It went on to examine how subsequent changes in scientific, economic and social preoccupations have influenced our attitudes to plants – from tools to exploit for food, fuel and industry, to objects of beauty, to being an essential global resource that must be conserved.

Every episode is available to download from the BBC website.

Image: BBC

Remote assessment of locally important ecological features across landscapes: how representative of reality?

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on August 12th, 2015

A recently published paper in Ecological Applications describes the local ecological footprinting tool (LEFT), which uses globally available databases, modelling, and algorithms to remotely assess locally important ecological features across landscapes based on five criteria: biodiversity (beta-diversity), vulnerability (threatened species), fragmentation, connectivity, and resilience. This approach can be applied to terrestrial landscapes at a 300-m resolution within a given target area. Input is minimal (latitude and longitude) and output is a computer-generated report and series of maps that both individually and synthetically depict the relative value of each ecological criteria. A key question for any such tool, however, is how representative is the remotely obtained output compared to what is on the ground. Here, we present the results from comparing remotely- vs. field-generated outputs from the LEFT tool on two distinct study areas for beta-diversity and distribution of threatened species (vulnerability), the two fields computed by LEFT for which such an approach is feasible. The comparison method consists of a multivariate measure of similarity between two fields based on discrete wavelet transforms, and reveals consistent agreement across a wide range of spatial scales. These results suggest that remote assessment tools such as LEFT hold great potential for determining key ecological features across landscapes and for being utilized in pre-planning biodiversity assessment tools.

The science and technology behind LEFT is key to development of NaturEtrade.


Reference: Willis KJ, Seddon AWR, Long PR et al. 2015. Remote assessment of locally important ecological features across landscapes: How representative of reality? Ecological Applications 25 (5):1290-1302. doi:

NaturEtrade at the Congress for Conservation Biology

posted by Alistair Yeomans on August 7th, 2015

Dr Peter Long attended the joint ICCB - 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and the 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology this week in Montpelier, France. There, Peter gave a presentation and live demonstration of NaturEtrade to the c. 100 delegates who attended his session. The audience was made up of a range of ecology and conservation researchers, policy makers and field-based practitioners - many of whom have been added to our mailing list to receive future updates on the project.

Kathy Willis wins 2015 Michael Faraday Prize

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on July 20th, 2015

Kathy is only the fourth woman to have won the prestigious Faraday prize for expertise in communicating scientific ideas to a UK audience in lay terms. This skill is of immense value to NaturEtrade which is seeking to share complex, often controvertial, ideas with policy makers and land managers in a climate of uncertainty over reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the issue of valuing nature in Europe. 

JULES - our water layer takes shape

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on July 1st, 2015

Becky followed up her water-food-energy nexus meeting in Washington with a meeting much closer to home - in Reading for two days from 30th June.  The meeting was a Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES)  workshop. It was an opportunity to  learn about the JULES model, which will be instrumental  for NaturEtrade's water layer. Becky demonstrated NaturEtrade to technically-expert modellers and got some very useful feedback on how to integrate the water layer into EcoSET.

Another water-energy-food Nexus Workshop

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on June 3rd, 2015

Becky Wilebore represented attended the workshop in Washington DC in June to share and learn about water algorithms. The aims of the meeting were to Identify gaps in understanding of the WEF Nexus; Explore the role of governance in managing the Nexus with an emphasis on land and water policy; Identify the observations and science needed to support decisions related to the W-E-F Nexus; and Explore trans-Atlantic opportunities in research, business, governments and civil society associated with the Nexus.T he meeting provided a rapid overview of what is currently going on in water and land management public-private sector collaborations at local, national and international levels using earth observations integrated into policy & practice tools. There was an opportunity to learn about similar projects with whom we could potentially collaborate on our proposed water layer in particular, but also our other landuse algorithms. It was a large international audience, with many delegates from Europe, and there was a lot of interest in the NaturEtrade concept. This was Becky's first meeting after joining the team to spearhead the technical work for the water layer and, though a long way to go to discuss a European project, the concepts are global and the meeting held a captive audience of all the key players in this field.


Image: UK Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology Parliamentary Office of Science and TechnologyParliamentary Office of Science and Technology Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology 



A natural capital investment strategy for Surrey workshop

posted by Alistair Yeomans on March 6th, 2015

Two of our project members, Dr Gill Petrokofsky (University of Oxford) and Alistair Yeomans (Sylva Foundation), had the pleasure of attending a natural capital workshop organised by the Surrey Nature Partnership in Guildford this week. There, they were able to introduce NaturEtrade to the meeting attendees, and propose it as a tool that could be useful to County Councils and Wildlife Trusts when identifying potential payment for ecosystem services business models. There was plenty of interest in NaturEtrade, both as a trading tool but also for use as a monitoring instrument.

NaturEtrade at Natural Capital Workshop

posted by Alistair Yeomans on January 30th, 2015

This week Professor Kathy Willis introduced companies involved in the retail and food service to the concept of NaturEtrade in her presentation at the Valuing Nature meeting and workshop in London, convened by Coca Cola, WWF and the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment. There was great interest from the meeting attendees, who had the opportunity to discuss natural capital and how it relates to the food and retail service sectors, the business case for valuing natural capital and how natual capital can have implications across the value chain.

Société Française d’Ecologie

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on December 12th, 2014

At the British Ecological Society-Société Française d’Ecologie (BES-SFE) Annual joint meeting held in Lille on 9-12 December, Peter Long  presented algorithms developed for NaturEtrade and received helpful feedback from broad-based ecology and conservation field-based practitioners.  We hope to make NaturEtrade a regular feature at BES meeting throughout the project.  This is the last news post of 2014 for NaturEtrade. it has been a great year for sharing our project and getting rich feedback from a very wide variety of people. We have met with a lot of enthusiasm for the project and we enter 2015 in a hopeful state of mind. Season's Greetings all!

Integrating technologies and Field Work

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 16th, 2014

Peter Long demonstrated NaturEtrade and shared information about the use of big data for conservation at a well-attended meeting held at the Royal geographical Society in London on 15 November. There was considerable interest in the potential of the tool, which extended beyond our project objectives, but which will be useful to keep in mind as the project progresses.

Norwegian Polar Institute exposed to EcoSET

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 3rd, 2014

Peter Long had a very interesting series of discussions with delegates to the meeting on 'Assessing vulnerability' at the Norwegian Polar Institute on  3 November. He demonstrated EcoSET as a proof of concept for assessing ecosystem services that will be built into NaturEtrade. Although the audience were mainly from Norway, which will not be one of our case study countries, the mapping in NaturEtrade will include landcover for Norway. 


Image: from Norwegian Polar Institute website (and not intended to imply that NaturEtrade will assess penguins as an ecosystem service, nor that we think they live in Norway!)

NaturEtrade in Salt Lake City

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on October 10th, 2014

NaturEtrade was presented by Professor Jeff Burley, Emertius Professor of Forestry at the University of Oxford, at a side event in this huge 5-yearly forestry conference organised by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) held this year in Salt Lake City, Utah. There was considerable interest in the project by European delegates who were there, including those from Croatia, who are potentially interested in participating in the workshop to be held there later in the project. An exciting outcome!

NaturEtrade Autumn workshop

posted by Alistair Yeomans on September 23rd, 2014

This first workshop was held on 22nd September 2014 for 9 external people representing business, wildlife trusts, local government, academic research and land management (including large estate management). The most important outcome of the meeting was great interest in the project and a commitment from all attendees to engage with us as we develop this tool. The feedback on developing the contract between the ecosystem service seller and buyer was particularly useful.

LEFT at FOSS4G 2014

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on September 14th, 2014

Peter Long was invited to speak in Portland, Oregon about our Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT) tool at the annual global conference focused on open source geospatial software. He was able to exchange knowledge about architecture and infrastructure of software for large-scale, web-based geoprocessing with international developers. The conference was a good learning experience for NaturEtrade architecture options. Peter had good feedback on algorithms under development. A video of the talk can be seen here.

NaturEtrade at Eco**2

posted by Alistair Yeomans on September 11th, 2014

Professor Kathy Willis attended Eco**2: Application of ecological and economic ideas at the London School of Economics this week where she presented a keynote talk and discussion on the novel aspects of NaturEtrade and its potential use as an alternative to business-as-usual biodiversity conservation. The c. 200 delegates gave a positive reception to the concept of NaturEtrade.


posted by Gill Petrokofsky on September 10th, 2014

Sandra Nogué spoke about EcoSET at the Conference 'Next Research Generation (NRG) organised by the Early career network of NERC Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability programme BESS in Southampton University on 8 September. There was considerable interest amongst the early career network researchers in looking at beta versions of NaturEtrade as it is developed, which will be great help in the development phase.

Earth observations in the water-energy-food nexus

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on March 27th, 2014

Peter Long Talk on our Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT) and discussed the new NaturEtrade project with delegates at this well-attended meeting hosted by teh Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome.  NaturEtrade is a tool that will help farmers maintain levels of ecosystem services, including water, on land they manage, and is therefore of key interest to discussions about assessing agriculture, water and energy using satellites.  


NaturEtrade goes to Parliament

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on February 18th, 2014

Peter Long and Gillian Petrokofsky met with Barry Gardiner, MP, and members of the All-Party Group on Biodiversity to discuss environmental tools developed by OxLEL, inlcuding NaturEtrade and demonstrate the Local Ecological Footprint Tool (LEFT). The APPG on Biodiversity is an important networking group for us as we develop NaturEtrade, as it is a forum for informed discussion between cross-party parliamentarians, senior policy makers, industry leaders and a broad range of environmental organisations on all aspects and challenges relating to biodiversity in the UK and the overseas territories. We will formally join the group (subscription-based).

National Biodiversity Network Research workshop

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on January 20th, 2014

Peter Long gave a talk to some 30 academics at the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Research workshop on 20th January at the Natural History Museum in London. His main focus was LEFT (Local Ecological Footprinting Tool) but he introduced the aims of NaturEtrade as a sister project. There was a lot of interest in this use of big data for contemporary biodiversity problems.

Image:Diliff [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Nature in the Balance

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on January 16th, 2014

Three members of the NaturEtrade project group wrote a chapter in an important new book on the topic of valuing nature, edited by Dieter Helm and Cameron Hepburn of the University of Oxford. The chapter is entitled 'Identifying and mapping biodiversity: where can we damage?' by Kathy Willis, Marc Macias-Fauria, Alexandros Gasparatos, and Peter Long. It sets out a lot of thinking behind LEFT, and by extension, NaturEtrade.

The book was favourably reviewed in two separate articles in the Economist (1) Now not never, and (2) Valuing the long-beaked echidna

Image: Oxford University Press

Inside Government - a useful forum

posted by Gill Petrokofsky on November 12th, 2013

Peter Long presented OxLEL's Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT) and discussed the objectives of NaturEtrade to an audience of around 100 people from across academia, NGOs, policy and business at the Institute of Physics in London. Inside Government organises policy-led forums on a wide range of topics to ‘encourage debate and discussion between policy makers and front-line staff on the challenges and opportunities facing the public sector and those working with them.’ Peter was invited to present our environmental tools in this forum as an example of a best-practice tool that can make a contribution to the problem of biodiversity loss.  


image courtesy of London Sustainable Development Commission

NaturEtrade LIFE+ project launches in Copenhagen

posted by Alistair Yeomans on October 28th, 2013

This week the NaturEtrade project officially started with a kick off meeting at European Union offices in Copenhagen. The project is being led by the University of Oxford with the support of the Sylva Foundation.

Dr Peter Long (University of Oxford) and Alistair Yeomans (Sylva Foundation) attended the meeting, and gave a presentation on the scope of this EU match-funded project.

Background and aims:

This project will run for 5 years and aims to develop a web-based system that enables EU landowners to assess the provision of ecosystem services on their land, and then trade these services.

Main EU policies targeted:

The main EU policies that the work aims to help address are:

  • Reduction of loss of EU natural habitats (Directive 92/43/EEC)
  • Sustainable economic growth by maintaining ecosystems and their services (COM(2011)17)
  • Active involvement of EU citizens in biodiversity conservation (COM(2011)244 final)

This News item originally appeared on the Sylva Foundation blog on October 24 2013.

Successful LIFE+ project bid: “NaturEtrade: creating a marketplace for ecosystem services”

posted by Alistair Yeomans on July 4th, 2013

Oxford Biodiversity Institute has been successful in the LIFE+ 2012 call for proposals with a project, “NaturEtrade” that will explore the possibility of creating a marketplace for ecosystem services. The European Commission has approved funding for 248 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union’s environment fund. The projects cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across all Member States. Overall, they represent a total investment of some EUR 556.4 million, of which the EU will provide EUR 281.4 million.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “The LIFE+ programme continues to provide vital funding for innovative projects. These new projects will make a big contribution to protecting, conserving and enhancing Europe’s natural capital. They will support the goal of turning the EU into a resource efficient, greener and more competitive low-carbon economy.”

A key partner in NaturEtrade with the Biodiversity Institute will be the Sylva Foundation, which has an impressive track record of working with private woodland owners in Britain to improve the environmental, social, and economic values of British woodlands.

Details of NaturEtrade can be found on page 151 of the downloadable EU booklet describing all the successful Environment Policy & Governance projects (pdf).


Please fill in your name and email address.

Subscription successful.

Please check your email for confirmation.