A pioneering new fund, the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, has awarded funding to 27 projects. These project are designed to drive private investment in nature and tackle climate change. The fund has been set up by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), The Environment Agency, and Natural England. John has particularly welcomed the investment in local organisations and sites.
The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, based at Crowmarsh Gifford, has been awarded £99,931 for its work at four UK sites on a project which seeks to develop a rigorous and scientifically based voluntary certification standard for those that want to market the climate benefits of saltmarsh restoration, with assurances to voluntary carbon market buyers that the climate benefits are quantifiable, additional and permanent. Revenue generation potential includes premium pricing for saltmarsh with a UK PLC level assessment of revenue returns. £1bn funding requirement to mitigate for climate change adaptation and mitigation off set through carbon credits of circa £40m per annum.
The RSPB has been awarded £59,638 for work to develop a method to aggregate equity funding, which would finance habitat creation in a pipeline of projects. It will seek to model revenues through biodiversity and carbon credits at significant scale, and it will model this approach in up to six pioneer sites including one in Oxfordshire. Revenue would be generated through Biodiversity net gain at scale.
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has been awarded £100,000 for a project to develop a new habitat banking investment model to deliver biodiversity net gain at scale. The project is a consortium of Wildlife Trusts and will define habitat restoration and creation of grassland, wetland and woodland at three sites for carbon storage, improved flood resilience and visitor well-being. The project will monetise potential for revenue generation through biodiversity credits.
John said: “My congratulations to the these organisations and indeed all those who have been awarded funding. Environmental challenges from climate change and biodiversity loss need to be able to attract private investment alongside support from the public sector. This will help unleash innovation and growing new sources of finance, such as through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund. These are crucial for delivering nature recovery and developing nature-based solutions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
The funding will be used to develop the projects to the point they can provide a return on investment by capturing the value of carbon, water quality, biodiversity and other benefits provided by natural assets such as woodlands, peatlands, catchments and landscapes. It has been awarded to environmental groups, businesses and local authorities to develop projects that protect and enhance nature while also demonstrating innovative approaches to generating revenues from the wide range of benefits that nature provides.
Revenues will be generated through the sale of carbon and biodiversity units, natural flood management benefits and through reduced water treatment costs. In developing these revenue streams, the Fund will help create a pipeline of projects for the private sector to invest in, and develop new funding models that can be scaled and replicated elsewhere.
Projects receiving funding focus on tackling climate change and restoring nature through schemes such as woodland and habitat creation, peatland restoration, sustainable drainage and river catchment management.
Photo: An aerial view one of the sites where the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology wants to market the climate benefits of saltmarsh restoration - the north bank of the Humber estuary,