How Land Managers are Delivering County-wide Revival in Surrey

Effective land management on a big scale is the key to successful conservation. Our latest case study explores how Surrey Wildlife Trust is working with landowners and managers to deliver nature-based solutions that revive and regenerate land in Surrey.

Effective land management on a big scale is the key to successful conservation. Surrey Wildlife Trust is working with landowners and managers to deliver nature-based solutions that revive and regenerate land in Surrey. Its team shares advice, tools and connections to help landowners create habitats for wildlife while reducing pollution and disturbance and increasing resilience against flooding and climate change.

At the end of September, Land App sat down with Ben Habgood and Lucy Bryce, both Nature-based Solution Managers at Surrey Wildlife Trust, to discuss their ambitious new ways of engaging and working with local landowners and managers in Surrey. 

Working in partnership with Land App, a project called ’Regenerative Surrey’ began as a knowledge exchange programme designed to connect, inspire and enable all involved in land management in Surrey to create a green future for the county. Regenerative Surrey also embarked on a mission to build a pipeline of nature-based projects — which will facilitate fresh investment into Surrey’s unique natural landscapes beyond the life of the project.

In conversation with Ben and Lucy, we discuss the practical realities of land management today, the increasing call for nature-based action on the ground, and the growing value of spatial mapping technologies for strategic landscape planning. We also discuss issues such as data security, the need for a catchment-based approach and how best to catalyse green financial markets.

Looking out across Surrey (photo courtesy of Surrey Wildlife Trust)

An Appetite for Change:

Ben explains that the Nature-based solutions team has been running for just over a year: “It’s still a relatively new endeavour, but the uptake from land managers across Surrey speaks volumes”. From family farms to landed estates, smallholdings to golf courses, over the past twelve months there has been a grassroots movement taking place across Surrey. It is a movement eager to explore the possibilities of nature-based solutions and landscape regeneration. Lucy notes that this is partly due to the pressures and challenges that holdings – both big and small – are having to face. “Increased flooding risks, a rapid biodiversity decline and drier summers are just a selection of issues that landowners are juggling in Surrey. When you pair these issues against insecure and uncertain funding mechanisms within the agricultural sector, land management can get really difficult.”

Upon seeing this greater call for advice and support from a diversity of landowners, Surrey Wildlife Trust created the Nature-based solutions team. Ben outlines the ultimate goal of the team: “We’re here to empower landowners with more tools, more knowledge and more opportunities. Ultimately, land managers are the only people who have the proficiency to deliver land use change across their holding. However, the easier we can make that process for them, from first site analysis to facilitating fresh funding, the more confident Surrey’s land managers can be when making forward-thinking decisions.”

Connecting the dots across Surrey’s landscape is crucial for land managers going forward (photo courtesy of Surrey Wildlife Trust)

A Consultancy-Based Approach:

Lucy goes on to outline the journey that landowners will undertake with Surrey Wildlife Trust: “So far, everyone we have within the project has come to us. Once we are approached by a landowner the first step is to set up a surgery with one of our team to both gain an understanding of the current status quo of the land — and to produce some clear and actionable next steps that we can begin to work toward”. 

It is at this stage that the Land App platform comes into the picture. “Before we speak to interested parties, we undertake a process of land profiling to ensure we are fully up to speed on the area in question” explains Ben. “Land App is our de facto tool for this process.

“The platform intuitively blends together a wide range of key land insights in a concise and shareable format” adds Lucy, going on to joke that she is “really good at breaking stuff but even I am finding Land App almost impossible to break”. 

By importing either Land Registry parcels or the holdings SBI number, the Nature-based solutions team makes use of Land App’s data layer library – providing interactive insights on flood zones and priority habitats – and the report functionality and the Baseline Habitat Assessment template. When it’s time to run a face-to-face session, Land App enables the team to share these maps with the landowner who can view them in real-time and make edits and suggestions themselves. Ben adds to this point by explaining that “I’ve never worked in a way that makes it this easy to interact with someone’s land, give them actionable, concise suggestions whilst also enabling land managers to take control of the vision. Land App really does add a new dimension to how landowners are able to view and interact with their land”. 

The primary outcome from these initial meetings is to produce a baseline of what currently exists on the ground, and a companion land management plan which combines ecological and strategic advice with the vision and goals of the land manager. Both baseline and management plans are produced in collaboration on Land App and act as a statement of intent for both parties. Lucy explains that “from this point our focus turns to delivery.  We draw up a strategy that ensures clear progression from plan to targeted action. We also look to incorporate each individual landowner vision into a wider catchment-based approach — a crucial step if we are to achieve our overarching goal of 30 by 30”.

Surrey Wildlife Trust are offering support to local land managers for nature-based solution projects (photo courtesy of Surrey Wildlife Trust)

A Vision for the Future of Surrey:

Ben describes the next steps for the Nature-based solutions team: “In order to ensure we deliver county-wide, nature-based funding, we need to look at the monitoring process. It’s not enough to create and action the plans that we’ve built up across Surrey; we must make sure we have a standardised recording system that tracks uplift. We want work to be outcome based, and that means ensuring that our landowners and managers are supported not just through advice, but also through consistent and targeted funding available now and in the future. We’re hoping that some of Land App’s upcoming functionality, such as the Mobile App and Dashboards, will allow us to get ahead when it comes to monitoring”. 

Ben and Lucy end the conversation with an open invitation to all land managers working in Surrey to get in contact with the Nature-based solutions team. Lucy states that “whatever your vision or plan for the future of your holding, we’re here to give you the advice, the tools or the connections that you might need”.

You can get in contact with the Nature-based solutions team here: 

If you are interested in facilitating a similar movement please get in touch with Land App using the email address You can also sign up to Land App platform for free by visiting


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