Our Mission

Global Context

"While climate change has become a key focus of many companies’ sustainability strategies, there is now clear scientific evidence that net zero is not possible without nature. This understanding comes amidst an unprecedented nature crisis, driven by unsustainable exploitation of Earth’s natural resources and systems.

Nature is the backbone of human well-being and the foundation for all economic activity. The interplay between nature and climate requires collective, joined-up action to stabilize the climate, preserve freshwater resources, regenerate land, secure a healthy ocean and protect biodiversity. This must be done in line with scientifically defined limits and on a socially equitable basis." {quoted from Science-Based Targets for Nature}

Within this framing of a global nature crisis, "the Voluntary Biodiversity Credit (VBC) is a tool to enable investment in biodiversity conservation and/or enhancement, and can be broadly defined as a quantifiable unit representing a biodiversity conservation and/or enhancement claim using a scientific methodology." {quoted from the Biodiversity Credits Alliance}

While the Voluntary Carbon Credit (VCC) market is now maturing, there is a risk that the VBC market could go through a similar, damaging, ‘boom and bust’ cycle, that the VCC market experienced in its early years, caused by low-integrity trades.

We believe we can avoid this risk, by not waiting for the demand to dictate the market characteristics of VBC's. Rather we are pro-actively bringing together high-integrity mechanisms for the United Kingdom, that could contribute to an impactful International market for tackling the Nature Crisis.

Understanding Voluntary Biodiversity Credits

Carbon credit markets have been classified by the intervention type; i.e., Soil Sequestration, Solar Power, Clean Water Distribution, Sustainable Transportation, Grasslands, Cookstoves, Wind, Blue Carbon, Energy Efficiency, Reforestation, Hydropower, Urban Forestry.

The key difference between Carbon and Biodiversity credits is the non-fungibility of the underlying Natural Capital, and total focus on physical landscape and seascape assets.

Therefore, the opportunity for Voluntary Biodiversity Credit (VBC) markets, with its multiple-measure approach, is to work at more of a Bioregion scale - i.e. linked to physical place.

For VBC markets to flourish, there is a need for simplicity, catalytic impact, transparency, accountability, and community from the outset.

They need a set of clear Definitions and Governance Principles alongside firm standards that can be practically applied and enforced at a project level. As projects are linked to physical place, there is a strong need to link standards to local policies on land rights and responsibilities.

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) is a good example of an industry-led initiative, by the Forestry Commission (a GB body at the time), that has created a helpful mechanism for high-integrity voluntary Carbon Credits that can be used across the whole of the UK.

There are two quite different policy positions on domestic voluntary carbon markets – one is to retain any carbon abatement for UK net zero targets by restricting overseas investment, increasing the likelihood that we meet our targets and that these markets help (the position that the WCC and PC have taken to date).

The other is that these markets could attract significant inward investment that is worth making corresponding adjustments for, so the carbon abatement counts towards the country from where the investment comes.

Most of the emerging voluntary carbon markets in the UK have yet to decide on this, and there is nothing to stop international voluntary carbon markets like Verra operating in the UK with overseas investment – indeed there are companies trying to get VM0042 up and running for agricultural soil carbon in the UK now.

Opportunity for Scotland and the UK

Given the International recognition of the risk of insufficient governance frameworks for the Voluntary Biodiversity Credit markets, Scotland can step forwards to securing both a High-Integrity outcome for Scotland and to contribute to this need across the UK, through connecting with the BSI Nature Investment Standards programme, and International market infrastructures.


Through our working groups, we are tackling uncertainty / creating an informed marketplace for Nature Finance transactions. 

We are using Scotland as a test-bed for innovation, while making our output relevant to the whole of the UK, and to have influence Internationally.

This mission is underpinned by the following impact pathways:

  • Establish Scotland as test-bed for high-integrity Voluntary Biodiversity Credits.
  • Develop due diligence principles on who credits can be sold to.
  • Examine, through a use-case based approach, how Carbon Credit Schemes can be stacked with Biodiversity Credit Schemes.
  • Advocate clear delineation between funding due to compliance / regulatory / offsetting requirements and voluntary nature positive investments.
  • Clarify links to public funding, including agriculture bill.
  • Work with partners to bring in Catalytic Funding.

Further development of our mission is driven by the membership of the NFCA Taskforce, with close attention to ensuring this mission complements that of the international efforts being made, including the work of:

  • Biodiversity Credits Alliance
  • World Economic Forum
  • Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)
  • Taskforce on Nature Markets (TNM)
  • Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)
  • Verra