What we do

Countryscape is a multi-disciplinary consultancy based in Manchester. We combine the creative skills of a communications agency with the scientific knowledge of an environmental consultancy.

We work across the UK and internationally, primarily within the environmental and tourism sectors. Our expertise is diverse yet complimentary, encompassing design and marketing; landscape and place-making; events and engagement; knowledge exchange; research and innovation. Every day in our office is different and that’s something we thrive on.

We’ve been doing what we do for 15 years and as you’d expect, we’ve become good at it. We throw ourselves into projects with genuine passion and interest, no matter what size or shape they may be: from major programmes undertaken for European bodies and government agencies; to technical challenges posed by universities; to local initiatives that can make all the difference for communities, charities and businesses. If what you do is about improving places for the benefit of people and nature, then we share your vision and have a wealth of experience to offer.

Welcome to Countryscape. We help ideas take shape.

Our core services

Design and Communication:

We offer all of the services you’d expect from a creative agency, including branding and visual language, communications and marketing strategy, print and online media, displays and exhibitions, interpretive design, cartography, typography, photography, videography (yes, that’s a lot of ographies). What makes us different is that we specialise in the environmental and tourism sectors: we’re familiar with the target audiences, we understand their needs and interests, we’re skilled at developing messages and delivering calls to actionCome and talk to us about it.


Events and Engagement:

Over the years we’ve become skilled at designing, organising and facilitating events and engagement programmes. We’ve hosted international conferences; undertaken nationwide public consulations; carried out doorstep surveys; brought diverse partners together to produce award-winning strategies; helped communities create inspiring proposals for their neighbourhoods; worked closely with disadvantaged young people, black and minority ethnic groups, disabled people, school children and… well, pretty much everyone. Need help with an event? Get in touch. We’ll even bring the biscuits.


Maps and GIS:

We love maps. Whether it’s helping people to navigate a route, explore a location, learn about a place, make sense of data or add clarity to decisions – we’re skilled at harnessing the value of spatial information. We work with tourism bodies to create maps that bring destinations to life and give visitors the confidence to explore off the beaten track. We also provide GIS support to organisations involved in spatial planning – including habitat mapping, landscape character assessment, ecological analysis, urban design and many other applications. If you’re puzzling over lines on a map, we can help to create a clear picture from even the most tangled digital spaghetti. Try us.


Landscape and place-making:

We have a deep understanding of places – from both a technical and experiential perspective. We have a professional knowledge of landscape ecology, natural capital, nature-based solutions, urban design and other disciplines that give detailed insight into the interactions between people and the environment. We also understand sense of place and local distinctiveness; an understanding that we bring to our place-based interpretation and tourism marketing services, helping us to perceive the landscape from different perspectives.

Who we are

Jonathan PorterTechnical Director

Jonathan is a leading figure in the field of landscape ecology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). He has contributed greatly to the emerging discipline of Landscape Character Assessment, having developed field survey techniques and pioneered the use of GIS as a tool for landscape planning. As a founding partner of Countryscape, he works closely with landscape ecologists, cartographers and graphic designers, providing consultancy in landscape planning, landscape assessment and GIS. Example work includes designing spatial strategies for planning and development; coordinating national information networks; ecological analysis and habitat Modelling; authoring and editing technical papers and reports; software development, user training and database design. Jonathan is a graduate of Cambridge University, where he studied Natural Sciences, specialising in ecology. Prior to joining Countryscape, he carried out research with The University of Reading and Imperial College at Wye, including researching the link between landscape character and biodiversity, and the development of a habitat creation model for targeting agri-environment schemes.


Paul MahonyCreative Director

Paul has an extensive track record in communications and marketing, business development and knowledge exchange within both the public and private sectors, focusing on the environment and sustainable tourism. He has developed and managed communications strategies, information platforms and knowledge networks for organisations including the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Natural England and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), amongst others. He has also led numerous projects within the tourism sector (including economic development activities), working with Scottish Natural Heritage, Cadw, National Trust and other major operators within the UK. Paul is a member of CharityComms, through which he provides advice to social enterprises. He currently manages the Oppla Secretariat on behalf of EU FP7 projects OPERAs and OpenNESS.


Jemma SimpsonLandscape Analyst

Jemma is a highly qualified landscape analyst; her academic background includes an ESRC CASE award PhD at the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology (The University of Manchester), in collaboration with Salford City Council. This work explored environmental sustainability and its link with landscape, land use economics and community values. Jemma has a wealth of expertise in understanding landscape and she enjoys using these skills to help people to understand their landscape, celebrating it in ways they didn’t know they could. That could be through landscape characterisation and realising what is special or unique about their area, or understanding the goods and services provided by a landscape so it can be managed more sustainably and productively. Jemma believes that all landscapes are special and cherished by the people who live, work and play in them and that landscape is vital for people’s wellbeing and happiness. Jemma loves making maps! She appreciates how GIS can bring a range of disparate information together to create a clear picture of a place, how it works and interacts. Jemma helped to prepare the Talking About Our Place Toolkit for SNH and the Ecosystem Approach Handbook with Natural England. These are both valuable tools for helping people to discover and value landscapes and place. Jemma loves adventuring in her local landscape on the edge of the Peak District with her daughters and dogs, playing on her yoga mat or in her kitchen where she experiments with ferments and bakes.


Laura PartingtonLandscape & Urban Planner

Laura has a diverse background in the environmental sector, with experience ranging from community engagement and historical interpretation, to project management and landscape planning. She is a graduate in Geography from the University of Manchester and has completed a MA in Urban Design. Laura is experienced in stakeholder engagement and has facilitated a variety of consultation events, such as those for the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan and for the proposed extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. She has contributed to the writing of landscape guidelines for the Malvern Hills AONB Landscape Strategy and has also administered the Landscape Character Network (LCN) on behalf of Natural England. Prior to joining Countryscape, Laura worked as a Senior Community Link Officer for the Groundwork Trust, where she successfully managed a wide variety of regeneration projects.


Ivan GajosGraphic Designer

Ivan is a highly respected art director and photographer who has worked for a number of international design agencies in both the UK and Australia. His expertise encompasses a variety of contemporary and classic styles, though he is perhaps best known for his clean and functional approach to graphic design, the results of which have been applauded by clients such as the Countryside Agency, IBM, Guinness and American Express, to name a few. Ivan has experience of teaching graphic design software and techniques at a professional level, and continues to gain a reputation as an expert in design communications, applying solid creative principles to an ever-expanding repertoire of media.


Michael ShawWeb Developer

Michael has over 20 years experience in design communications, working extensively with both print and web-based media. During this time he has gained expertise in a range of commercial design techniques, including desktop publishing and typography, website design and build, digital mapping, cartography and multi-media applications (including interactive maps and Adobe Flash animation). Example work includes the production of leaflets, reports, websites, maps and other media for government agencies, local authorities and private businesses. Prior to joining Countryscape, Michael developed advertising tools, logos and promotional literature for clients such as Rolls Royce, Sainsbury’s and the Cooperative Wholesale Society.


Matthew BrownGraphic Designer

Matthew is an acclaimed creative designer with proven expertise in communications media. He has a wealth of experience in the commercial sector, developing brand identities, advertising tools and promotional literature for a variety of blue chip clients. He is particularly skilled at conceptual design and is able to translate the most complex messages into clear and meaningful visual form. Example work includes development of national brand identities; production of public and professional print media; icon design for maps and websites; creation of workshop tools and large format display materials. Furthermore, his expertise extends to freehand sketching, illustration and visualisation, which he often applies in the context of community planning and involvement.

Why we do it

Countryscape was established in 2002 by a group of like-minded people who share a passion for the environment. Since then, we’ve built our reputation on offering a friendly, ethical and transparent service. No professional snobbery. No technical tomfoolery. No corporate airs and graces. Just a talented, modest, hard-working team of people who pride themselves on doing a good job. It’s what gets us out of bed each morning.

Our team comprises people from diverse backgrounds, each with their own specialist skills, experience and professional interests. Our designers learnt their skills in the corporate sector, working for major advertising agencies. Our science specialists were born out of cutting-edge research at leading universities. Our media people have prior experience of working for the BBC and Guardian Group, amongst others. Together, our combined expertise enables us to take on complex and often challenging projects, creating solutions ‘all under one roof’.

We talk the talk, but we also walk the walk. We are committed to being an ethical company and are proactive in minimising our impact on the environment, a way of working that extends throughout our operations: from the way we manage our office, to our choice of suppliers, materials, tea/coffee… everything.

We also aim to offer best value by ensuring our services are competitively priced, well-managed and delivered to a high standard, on time and within budget. In 15 years of trading we have yet to have an unhappy client (so please don’t be the first).

We’re experienced enough to know that we might not change the world. But youthful enough to give it a good try anyway. And we love working with people who feel the same way.

Get in touch and let’s chat. Good things always come of it.

Examples

We've led literally hundreds of projects over the years and have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic people along the way. Here are some brief examples from our portfolio. Get in touch if you'd like to see more.

National Trust

Countryscape has been an approved supplier to the National Trust since 2006. We have a wealth of experience in working closely with the organisation on a wide range of projects and have gained a detailed knowledge of the National Trust brand, its target audiences and their needs.

We have experience of providing design and interpretation services to over 30 National Trust estates across the UK, including flagship destinations such as Dunham Massey, Lyme, Beningbrough, Claife Viewing Station at Windermere and many others. We have also produced ‘best practice’ guidance for the organisation, including a handbook on outdoor interpretation for countryside estates.


Oppla

Countryscape is a founding member and partner of Oppla European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG); a non-profit entity (SME) with a mission to “assist people in making nature work for the benefit of humankind”. It achieves this by managing and developing the Oppla platform: a web-based community and innovation hub for sharing knowledge about nature-based solutions, ecosystem services and natural capital. Since its launch in September 2016, Oppla has generated a community of over 1200 members and 100+ partners, drawn from a wide range of sectors (representing science, policy, business and society).

The concept, content and business model underpinning Oppla is the result of approximately €5 million investment from two EU FP7 projects, involving over 60 universities, research institutes, agencies and enterprises (it is the first spin-off SME of its kind to emerge from the FP7-Environment programme).

Oppla provides a ‘freemium’ model for users, meaning that membership and access to services are free at point of use. Content is obtained and managed following the principles of crowd-sourcing and open data, creating unprecedented opportunities for co-design and innovation. Current services include a ‘Knowledge Marketplace’ – a searchable database of guidance, software, data and other resources; a community directory and expertise match-making facility; a crowd-sourced question and answer service (Ask Oppla); and a project archiving and legacy service (with numerous other facilities in the pipeline).

Oppla is currently a partner in OPERAs, Connecting Nature and ThinkNature.


Valuing Nature Programme

Countryscape developed the brand identity for the Valuing Nature Programme: a five year, £6.5m initiative that aims to better understand and represent the complexities of the natural environment in valuation analyses and decision making. The programme considers the economic, societal and cultural value of ecosystem services and supports researchers in making links with policymakers, businesses and practitioners through the Valuing Nature Network.

Our work has included developing a website and producing various promotional and printed materials including video, exhibitions and reports. We also helped to organise and design the Valuing Nature Programme stand at the NERC ‘Into Blue’ event at Manchester Airport, which aimed to engage the general public in the value of nature. 


Heritage Lottery Fund

We have worked closely with numerous Heritage Lottery Funded projects at both application and implementation stage. This has involved the strategic planning of interpretation, events and activities across entire schemes, as well as the design, manufacture and installation of materials at individual sites. Our team is familiar with the current range of grant programmes, as well as relevant HLF guidance relating to interpretation, audience development and activity planning (guidance that we have ourselves put into practice). To date we have been instrumental in contributing to five successful HLF applications, securing budgets of around £2–3 million each.

We have been the sole provider of interpretation services to several programmes, notably Gower Landscape Partnership, The Lowry & BBC MediaCityUK and Ochils Landscape Partnership. Our team is currently working with the Carbon Landscape scheme in Greater Manchester, the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, near Barnsley and the Greensand Country Partnership in Bedfordshire. We have recently completed a review of 22 Landscape Partnerships on behalf of the HLF, identifying good practice and critical success factors.


Natural England

Countryscape has worked with Natural England since 2002 when we began facilitating the Countryside Character Network (later renamed the Landscape Character Network). We led the creation of the Database of Landscape Character Assessments in England and coordinated the communication and consultation work within Countryside Quality Counts.

Our work with Natural England has also involved various landscape planning and research projects including the development of the North West Landscape Character Framework; consultation on extensions to the Lakes District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks; and the authoring and design of the Ecosystem Approach Handbook. We have also produced infographics of climate change impacts and natural capital and carried out a review of online tools to involve people in landscape planning. Our technical director, Jonathan Porter, is a member of Natural England’s Landscape Advisory Group.