More Clarity And Certainty On Farmland Natural Capital Investment Opportunities

Dr Glyn Jones, from our LAND360 team, shares what Defra’s plans to scale up private investment in natural capital could mean for farmers and land managers.

Within the Green Finance and Nature Market Framework policies announced in April 2023, Defra set out plans to scale up private investment in natural capital across UK farms and rural estates.

This is a positive step which will support farmers and land managers to confidently access payments on offer for nature-friendly farming from the private sector, explains Dr Glyn Jones, Head of Science (Plant) at Fera Science Ltd.

The barriers to entering natural capital markets

Emerging markets for trading natural capital present huge investment opportunities for farmers and land managers in the UK. However, due to their newness, these markets are perceived to carry an element of risk for those weighing up the funding opportunities available to support nature-friendly projects, such as agroforestry and habitat creation.

We know that a lack of trust in this market is a significant barrier to entering it.

In a recent online poll, 70% of farmers and land managers told us they had ‘no confidence at all’ in engaging with private green finance agreements.

Growing farmer confidence in natural capital trading

By providing clear rules on how the natural capital market will operate, and confirming how private income streams can be stacked with ELMs funding, Defra’s new ‘nature investment standards’ are a step towards more clarity and certainty for farmers.

The direction for Defra’s strategy has been built on a strong evidence base, applying farmer insights from ELMs test and trial projects to help shape these priority areas.

Fera’s LAND360 service has been a fundamental part of one of these valuable projects ongoing in the North York Moors National Park.

Testing Defra’s ELMs policies – expert support from Fera

Over 120 farmers and land managers across the North York Moors National Park are involved in the ELMs Test and Trial project led by the National Park Authority, with support from Fera and other industry partners.

The aim of the 16-month project is to help farmers assess how they could make the most of private and public funding on offer for sequestering carbon, enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and flood management.

This started with equipping producers with a natural capital assessment of the landscape they farm. Our team applied the best available science, with LAND360, to create a detailed habitat map of the 1,436km2 National Park, scoring each habitat area based on carbon storage capacity and biodiversity value.

Read more detail on how we’re helping farmers across the North York Moors to understand their natural capital here.

A starting point for natural capital investment

Building this bespoke ‘natural capital baseline’ has provided farmers and land managers with a benchmark to inform future decisions. It’s a rich pool of data which clarifies the quality and quantity of the natural capital they have control over.

From here, land managers can explore how they could tap into a combination of available private and public funding options with more certainty and confidence.

Read how sustainable land management can help to futureproof farm businesses here.

The best natural capital investment plan for each farm

The most appropriate combination of income streams for each farm is dependent on unique landscape factors and how new environmental projects would fit alongside the existing farm business strategy.

To value their natural capital accurately and get a fair deal for the environmental benefits being delivered, it is essential for farmers to understand exactly what natural assets they have on the land they manage before entering any financial agreements.

Without a science-based ‘natural capital baseline’, they could end up simply losing control of income opportunities as the supply chain takes charge.

Making sustainable land use decisions with LAND360 expertise

Whether you're looking to undertake a comprehensive natural capital baseline assessment or seeking the provision of land management options to support future revenue streams, LAND360 has three packages designed to support farmers, landowners, and land agents when making sustainable land use decisions that are fit for the future.

Contact us to find out more here.

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