Early movers in markets for Nature-based solutions

By Rob Hindle | 11.12.23

In a series of short articles, Rob Hindle provides his thoughts on the key takeaways from our recent Nature-based Solutions roundtable.

Rural Roundtable - nature-based solutions article #1

Early movers in markets for nature-based solutions already driving nature recovery

In November we held a Rural Roundtable to discuss the evolving subject of nature-based solutions.

" The potential for a market for nature-based solutions in the UK is too important to ‘let perfect be the enemy of the good’."

Hosted by Heather and Mark Hancock in the splendid setting of the Master’s Lodge at St John's College in the University of Cambridge, the event brought together leaders in the sector to share insight, knowledge, and expertise.

The UCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) describes nature-based solutions as:

“Actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously benefiting people and nature.”

An emerging market for nature-based solutions

Over half of the dozen pioneers, practitioners, and thought-leaders at our nature-based solutions rural roundtable this November, have already agreed deals for the delivery of solutions for both climate and nature recovery.

Buyers in the sector range from developers to charities, and market makers, with deals being made in both regulatory and voluntary markets.

Prices are described as ‘pleasing’ and believed to reflect the cost of establishment and maintenance, while delivering a good rate of return against capital value and longer-term risk.

New habitats being created include wetlands, woodlands, wood pasture and herb-rich grassland.

Others around the table said they were close to entering the market once final preparations and legal documentation were in place.

A first foray into the market

All deals so far are viewed as a first foray into the market. Everyone agreed there was some way to go before they would be ready to commit fully either to the carbon or emerging nature market.

Reasons cited for hesitancy were various

Concerns varied from market value, to taxation, enterprise stacking and the irreversibility of land use change. All were clear however that early engagement in this emerging market from landowners is critical if it is to develop into an effective long-term opportunity.

While there are risks associated with uncertainty, both the short-term return on investment and long-term potential of a market for nature-based solutions in the UK is too important to ‘let perfect be the enemy of the good’.

What our guests had to say

Dominic Buscall, Founder of Wild Ken Hill, a nationally acclaimed land use project, which combines rewilding, regenerative farming, and conservation to restore nature, fight climate change and provide benefits to local people, commented:

“We have taken some early steps into both the carbon and nature markets. Taking some of our ‘stake’ off the table in accordance with our business plan. By doing so we have bought some time, time we will use to let the voluntary nature markets develop and allow some of the uncertainties especially around tax, additionality, and ‘stacking’, to be addressed.”

Glenn Anderson, Managing Partner at Dillington Hall Estate, and Project Lead on The Wendling Beck Environment Project, a pioneering habitat creation, nature restoration and regenerative farming venture, said:

“Don’t hold back on your baselining. You can’t take a long view of the market without it.”

All participants stressed the importance of a comprehensive baseline assessment as the starting point to demonstrate ‘additionality’.

Connect with us

Find out more about our work in Regenerative Land Management. Stay in touch by following us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter or email us at info@ruralsolutions.co.uk

To read the other articles in the series please follow the links below:

What makes a market?

Scale through aggregation

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