Innovative nature projects awarded funding to drive private investment and tackle climate change

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Projects to restore kelp forests, create new woodland, deliver natural flood risk management, and improve water quality are among an initial 27 schemes to benefit from a pioneering new fund to drive private investment in nature and tackle climate change, Defra, the Environment Agency & Natural England have announced.

Organisations across England have been awarded up to £100,000 each, as part of the ground-breaking £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund. 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.

Funding 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.

Examples include a Wiltshire based project to map and audit the potential monetisation of a range of ecosystem services from biodiversity and woodland creation, flood risk management, improved water quality and ecotourism. and The Carbon Bank an Ecotricity project based in the South West, to identify and model woodland creation in a number of company sites.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “To tackle the environmental challenges we face from climate change and biodiversity loss, it is crucial that domestic natural environment projects are able to attract private investment alongside support from the public sector.

“Unleashing innovation and growing new sources of finance, such as through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, are fundamental for delivering nature recovery and developing nature-based solutions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd said: “With the right structure, nature-based projects can be scaled up by private finance, helping to reduce emissions, prepare for climate shocks and create jobs. From a new business model for multi-functional forestry in Yorkshire, to an investment fund to transform farmland in Norfolk, these projects will provide evidence of funding models to make industries fit for the future, reach net zero by 2050, and create a nature positive future. With COP26 coming to the UK this year, this demonstrates how to create investable propositions for nature based solutions to the climate emergency.”

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