Winning projects under Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund revealed

Photo by Binyamin Mellish:

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 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 £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.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow commented on the announcement: “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.”

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 developing a carbon credit model for saltmarshes across England; kelp forest restoration off the Sussex coast, woodland creation in North Yorkshire and peatland restoration in Greater Manchester.

Working on behalf of Defra and HMT, delivery partners the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Access Foundation for Social Investment will support the projects and make the knowledge generated available to the public to encourage similar approaches to access private sector finance for nature projects in the future.

The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has supported DEFRA and the Environment Agency throughout the Fund’s launch including leading a series of educational workshops for interested applicants, and acting as third party assessor and advisor over the application and awards process.

Subject to confirmation, the Environment Agency and Defra are planning to launch a further application round later this year.

More information about the winning projects is available on the UK Government website.