New investment partnership created to finance Nature restoration in Scotland

New investment partnership created to finance Nature restoration in Scotland
Silt washing out to sea at Anstruther, after a storm event: Courtesty of Bill Bruce

A consortium of community organisations, national agencies, green finance and land management specialists has joined forces to create a novel framework to fund nature restoration in eastern Scotland, called Nature Finance Fife.

The initiative will blend public, philanthropic and private finance for the restoration of the region’s natural ecosystems – underpinned by the world’s first nature fintech platform to enable nature-positive investment. Critically, it will be anchored in the local community, involving businesses and residents throughout the pilot area of the Dreel Burn river catchment at the coastal town of Anstruther.

Anstruther Improvements Association(AIA) want the Dreel Burn to be restored as a clean, biodiverse and vibrant river, valued by the farming, fishing, rural and urban communities of the East Neuk. To achieve this goal, it is essential that communities are sufficiently resourced to act as responsible stewards of the Dreel Burn.

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive of NatureScot, one of the initiatives funders, said:

“As we tackle the climate-nature crisis with a growing urgency, everyone has the responsibility to get us to net zero. Our support for Nature Finance Fife is part of our commitment to offer communities, companies, charities and individuals across Scotland the opportunity to develop bold business cases and financial models which will attract the investment required to restore nature.”

The Fife region of eastern Scotland covers a land mass of 132,500 hectares, of which three quarters is farmland. It has 180 miles of coastline and is home to 400,000 residents, over 1500 farms and an eclectic mix of award-winning food and drink producers from small artisan producers, such as Mara Seaweed, to large-scale manufacturers such as Diageo, MOWi, Quakers Oats, Carr’s Flour Mill, BPlasticFree, The Wee Tea Company and Tayport Distillery. 17% of Fife’s businesses are in the food and drink sector, with Fife’s fishing fleet exporting £5m of seafood to Europe annually.

Benefits of landscape-scale investments in nature restoration include growth in natural populations of fish and molluscs, improvements to local water quality, and resilience to drought conditions.

Jeremy Harris, CEO of the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (FCCT), the lead partner on the project said:

“We all know the term ‘climate change’. We also now regularly hear about the ‘climate crisis’. We perhaps know about biodiversity-loss and even the ‘nature crisis’. We’ve heard of ‘extreme weather events’ and understand to an extent their connection to the changes in our climate.

People in Fife are starting to recognise the signs of climate change as they go about their lives. In recent weeks the Kingdom has felt the impact of more intense seasonal storms and tides, and we’ve seen unprecedented damage to our coastal infrastructure. 

It is clear to us that the financial burden should not in fact fall entirely on the public purse to address. Rather, funds allocated by both the Local Authority and Scottish Government should be used to catalyse action and funding from the private sector. This includes a growing number of private companies are on a journey to becoming ‘nature positive’ in the way they do business, and to to protect the natural environment, upon which we all, ultimately, depend.”

Cain Blythe, Founder and CEO of CreditNature, the initiatives technology partner, said:

“Our product provides metrics linked to Nature Impact Tokens (NIT) underpinned by a proprietary Natural Asset Recovery Investment Analytics (NARIA) framework. The first gateway to sustainable investment and the first to quantify ecosystem integrity enabling direct investment in land assets to deliver benefits to local land managers while enabling and measuring uplift in biodiversity and ecosystems. 

We are delighted to be working with local partners to develop a plan to create a voluntary biodiversity credit system that meets the needs of Nature Finance Fife. The CreditNature methodology is an ideal fit to build capacity locally to address landowners’ business concerns with community-led stewardship of the river and wider landscape, while also contributing to our mission of accelerating rewilding and unlocking nature-positive investment around the world.”

Read More about Nature Finance Fife

Nature Finance Fife is a flexible, integrated, and financially viable organisational structure that supports the preservation and enhancement of natural resources in water catchment areas, while providing tangible benefits to landowners, communities, and investors.

The vision for Nature Finance Fife is to:

  • Establish a network of healthy rivers that collect, channel and transport life-supporting water through the landscape and into the seascape.
  • Facilitate a just transition to sustainable and regenerative systems across Fife, focused on developing reliable and holistic water catchment projects.
  • Nurture circular economy businesses, including acting as a test-bed for product innovation.

Nature Finance Fife aims to blend funding from a variety of sources, including philanthropic, private sector and public money, including windfall funding from the Scottish and UK governments. NFF can assist 'operationalising' national strategies for funding nature restoration at the scale needed to address the biodiversity crisis in the UK.

It is highly collaborative, with co-design between interested parties being key to our core values of transparency and integrity. Understanding and reflecting the needs of all stakeholders is fundamental to our approach and is what we believe will be the key to its success.

Development of the Nature Finance Fife initiative is supported by NatureScot in collaboration with The Scottish Government and in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players.

The lead partner on the Nature Finance Fife initiative, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust have a mission to connect environment and people. They aim to achieve this by creating a healthier environment that supports wellbeing and sustains the balance between people and the natural world.They believe that supporting the transition to regenerative systems that benefit nature, people, and the economy will allow us to tackle environmental and social crises at the local and regional level. 

They build partnerships and seek funding to deliver conservation action on the ground to support Fife’s biodiversity and address the climate and nature emergencies. They drive strategic environmental conservation efforts across Fife through the development of local and regional policy and procedures, as well as engaging directly in conservation activities.

Other project partners are:

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