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Natural England publish Ricardo report and mitigation tool on nature-based solutions for nutrient mitigation

04 Apr 2024


Natural England, an independent public organisation that oversees the conservation of England’s rural environment, has published a series of reports produced by Ricardo that will build a wider understanding of the potential of nature-based solutions to reduce nutrients.

Nutrient pollution is a significant issue for the natural environment.  In freshwater habitats, for example, the increased presence of nitrogen and phosphorus can accelerate the spread of flora that impact local wildlife.

The additional nutrients often derive from nearby property – such as from the surface water runoff and wastewater they generate - which means new developments close to rivers, lakes and estuaries carry a risk of causing further nutrient pollution.

Ricardo was commissioned by Natural England to research and report on the mechanisms of various nature-based nutrient removal solutions. 

The research provides insight for Local Planning Authorities, developers and others interested in nutrient mitigation, outlining current confidence of various natural solutions, alongside details of what to consider for proposed developments.

The reports follow the recently updated Nutrient Neutrality calculator produced by Ricardo, a tool that helps developers and planners understand the impact of developments and identify actions to ensure no additional nutrient burden is added to the environment.

What the reports cover

Evidence of the scale of nutrient reductions that each solution might achieve was assessed and precautionary nutrient reduction efficiency values provided where evidence was sufficient and scientifically robust. 

Evidence is provided related to four mitigation solutions:

  • Agroforestry
  • Riparian Buffer Strips
  • River Channel Naturalisation
  • Engineered Logjams

The reporting includes: 

A literature review related to the evidence base on the effectiveness of the different Nature-based Solutions.  
NECR538 Evidence Base Development for Nature-Based Nutrient Mitigation Solutions 

A framework that considers the design, implementation, monitoring and maintenance needs to support development of a nutrient reduction scheme for each of the four solutions. 

NECR539  How to Deliver and Assess Agroforestry for Nutrient Mitigation

NECR541 How to Deliver and Assess Riparian Buffer Strips for Nutrient Mitigation

NECR542 How to Deliver and Assess River Channel Re-Naturalisation for Nutrient Mitigation

NECR545  How to Deliver and Assess Engineered Logjams for Nutrient Mitigation

A nutrient mitigation look up tool with high-level practical information on a wider range of potential nutrient mitigation solutions: NECR544 Nutrient Mitigation Tool.

Need help?

If you need to know more about how to deliver a nutrient mitigation scheme, what evidence you need to be confident it will work or help with the nutrient calculations then contact our experts, Dr. Jenny Mant ( and/or Declan Sealey (

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