The second round of the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) has just been announced by Defra and the Environment Agency, with grants of up to £100,000 provided to organisations and local authorities to help them develop nature projects so they’re able to attract private investment.
There are 50 schemes set to benefit from this final round of funding, including restoration and rewetting of peatlands in Doncaster, flood resilience improvements and the creation of green urban spaces.
The aim of the funding is to help projects such as these develop to the point where they’re able to demonstrate a return on investment through benefits such as water quality, capturing the value of carbon, biodiversity and so on via natural assets like peatlands, rivers and woodlands.
Revenue will be generated through improvements in biodiversity, reduced water treatment costs, natural flood management and the sale of carbon storage.
In Doncaster, for example, lowland peat will be rewetted to grow plant fibre material, which can then be used as padding for clothes.
Investors are expected to be drawn in by the amount of revenue potential from the sale of biodiversity credits and carbon units, through the creation of sustainable textiles and the compensation of biodiversity loss and carbon emissions.
In the Liverpool City Region, meanwhile, habitat enhancements will be carried out, such as tree planting, nature recovery and brownfield land regeneration to tackle the ecological and environmental degradation in the area.
Revenue will be generated through the sale of biodiversity units to housing developers looking to compensate and provide net gains for biodiversity losses arising from developments.
And in Plymouth, the potential for new natural surface water drainage schemes is now being explored to unlock development through the reduction of flood risks and improvements in water management and climate resilience.
Chair of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd said: “The finance community is increasingly aware that investors want to understand how their savings deliver good outcomes on the ground. What we learn from these projects will help the private sector invest in activities that deliver both environmental improvements and generate returns.
“By showing what works we can attract a wider pool of investors to fund work on a much larger scale that helps protect people from climate impacts and restores nature. Given the current acceleration of climate risks to the global economy, we need this to happen at pace.”
The recent Dasgupta Review, published in February last year, set out a new comprehensive economic framework for biodiversity, calling for urgent and transformative change in how to measure economic success and protect both our prosperity and the natural world.
It argues that nature is our most precious asset, but productivity, resilience and adaptability of nature are being undermined by significant declines in biodiversity which, in turn, is putting our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing at risk.
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