Development Boost for 'Holistic Plug-in' Community Benefits Standard for UK Nature Credits.

Development Boost for 'Holistic Plug-in' Community Benefits Standard for UK Nature Credits.
Community Science Riverfly Monitoring on the Dreel Burn, Fife. Courtesy of Anstruther Improvements Association.

The ‘Community Benefits Certification Mark’ project has been awarded further government and philanthropic funding, based on a successful proof of concept delivered by the Nature Finance Certification Alliance (NFCA).

The purpose of the Certification Mark, only applicable to UK-based projects, will be to improve long-term project and community outcomes, by embedding community participation within projects and setting higher standards for inclusion and prioritisation of local community benefits.

Green Finance Institute have commented:

We are proud to support this project and its ambition to align nature restoration and long-term community benefits, especially in the context of nature credits and the role of private finance. We know that the inclusion of local communities can not only be beneficial but vital for nature-based projects over their lifetime, and that the private sector is keen to support projects that deliver both social and ecological outcomes. This project fills a much needed gap of a common standard that projects can adhere to and evidence their commitment to such outcomes – helping to improve confidence and visibility for all.

The project will establish a consensus on community benefits best practice across the UK Nature Investment market - e.g. soil health, water quality, biodiversity and carbon projects - through a streamlined and affordable certification process; that can 'plug-in' to existing ecosystem service schemes.

It also seeks a holistic approach to project development, in line with the NFCA's Four Investment Pillars and Founding Values.

Nature Finance Certification Alliance (NFCA) Co-Chair Simon Herko, adds:

“A separate UK standard is needed, to ensure it is fit for purpose for smaller scale projects, while also achieving strong alignment with national and regional government policies. We want to ensure transparency and consistency on how communities are involved, and define what benefits natural capital projects bring communities at a local level. We believe in having one UK community standard to interrogate, rather than each ecosystem service scheme operating their own.” 

Trial audits of the new standard will be undertaken later this year by the UK’s Soil Association Certification, a trusted validator and verifier for the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, Peatland Code and Wilder Carbon Standard for Nature and Climate.

These audits will cover a range of scenarios, drawn from a pool of Scottish projects, including the Dreel Burn, Fife (promoted by CreditNature), Tayvallich, Argyllshire (promoted by Highlands Rewilding) and Dumyat, Stirling (promoted by Future Forest Company).

Foundation Scotland Head of Communities & Impact Rachel Searle confirmed:

Foundation Scotland is delighted to be associated with this pioneering work. We appreciate the wholistic, inclusive and collaborative approach of NFCA in building a Standard in UK Nature Credits that all stakeholders can convene around and champion in our collective effort to restore nature and build sustainable communities.

Other key project partners include Kana (a natural capital investment platform), Deciding Matters (community participation experts), Realise Earth (sustainability leadership experts), Scottish Land Commission, Strathclyde Institute for Sustainable Communities, SRUC, Soil Association Charity, Trees for Life (a Scottish natural capital developer) and Nattergal (an English natural capital developer).

The British Standards Institute (BSI) also sit on the project’s advisory board, and are in support of the certification, that strongly complements their work on developing ecosystem service focussed nature investment standards.

Notes for Editors

The project is funded by the Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS). It is co-funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with the Scottish Government and NatureScot.

It aims to help create a pipeline of market-ready projects to help attract responsible private investment in Scotland’s nature. 

The fund supports projects that shape and grow the use of private investment and market-based mechanisms to finance the restoration of Scotland’s nature.

35 diverse projects will share nearly £4.8 million from public funds and matched by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The funded projects are spread across Scotland from the Solway Firth to Shetland, Fife, across central Scotland, and the Hebrides.

Examples include using private finance to restore river catchments to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, while creating community assets such as growing spaces and improved greenspace. 

Eight projects, including this ‘Community Benefits Certification Mark’ project, have been supported in this latest round of awards, with grants totalling £1,055,117.

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska states:

“Partnerships are at the heart of how Scotland will succeed in protecting more of its land and sea for nature, by creating the right relationships and conditions for everyone to play their part in this vital collective effort. The inspiring recipients of the second round of FIRNS funding are leading the way in devising new approaches and financial models to ensure Scotland can scale up its progress for nature, so that our communities and nature both thrive.”

The Nature Finance Certification Alliance (NFCA) will hold the IP for the Certification mark. The NFCA is an independent industry association for the UK nature investment market. It is co-hosted by Fife Coast & Countryside Trust and Iconic Blockchain. The organisation was originally incubated on the Nature Finance Pioneers of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.

See for more information about the project.

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