Nature Capital (NC) projects are gaining momentum as corporations and communities recognise the importance of sustainable environmental practices. In our recent forum, we delved into key questions surrounding NC, aiming to uncover insights and drive meaningful discussions on this critical topic. Here’s a recap of the key points and takeaways from our session:

Stewardship of Nature Capital Projects

Our discussions explored the roles of various stakeholders, including owners, communities, investors, and brokers, in stewarding NC projects. It became evident that engagement and collaboration across these groups are crucial for the success of NC initiatives.

We hope that sessions like ours can play a part in improving communication across different interest groups and enable them to work together more effectively in NC projects.

Scope of Nature Capital

While Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has been a focal point, our session particularly highlighted the broader scope of NC activities. Corporations are increasingly engaged in initiatives beyond regulatory requirements, driven by a genuine passion for nature and a growing awareness of environmental dependencies affecting their business operations.  A good example of this is Severn Trent’s initiative to use peatland conservation and restoration as a cost-effective water filtration method, showcasing an innovative approach beyond regulatory requirements.

It was recognised that whilst landowners are without a doubt considering nature and their own environmental responsibility when planning for the future, there were still some concerns around:-

  1. Tax – the government’s announcement that APR will be available for environment schemes only extends to those governed by government, local authority or a responsibly body so the types of private entrepreneurial investment discussed is unlikely to be covered by this relief.
  2.  Longevity – landowners planning for generations to come (100year +) will want to understand what the long lasting impact of NC schemes is.  What can they expect at the end of the initial investment period?
  3. Land use/ sharing – more consideration needs to be given to the land and property structures especially if an element of our NC activities is to involve the community and/or multiple stakeholders.

Legal Models, Contracts and Pricing

We explored the convergence of agriculture and private finance, highlighting the need for legal models that distinguish between ownership and use, especially concerning long-term projects.

The session delved into the complex question of pricing nature. Anecdotes, such as discussions with landowners about long-term projects, highlighted the need to ensure financial benefits over extended periods, emphasising the importance of multi-decade planning but also highlighted how value can and should be attributed to benefits over and above the purely economic.

Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD)

There was keen interest in understanding how TNFD could harmonise standards in NC projects. Attendees expressed the importance of standardised metrics and terminology to accelerate progress and involve large funds in sustainability initiatives. We also emphasised the crucial importance of trustworthy and consistent certification and verification for projects, which is essential for long term credibility and investment.

Trends and Developments

Discussions revealed a shared goal of accelerating NC initiatives to achieve net-zero targets. Attendees emphasised the need for standardised metrics, terminology, and increased involvement of large funds to drive meaningful impact.

Our session identified non-financial drivers for change in NC projects, emphasising the urgency of accelerating action to address environmental challenges.

Additional Resources

For those interested in delving deeper into NC topics, resources such as Hadrian Bond from the Green Finance Institute and the NARIA measuring tool developed by CreditNature  offer valuable insights and learning opportunities.

We will meet again in the near future and if you would like to be involved in the next forum and discussions around the crucial topic of Nature Capital in all its reiterations, please contact us.

Written By

Published: 18th March 2024
Area: Corporate

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Paul has over 30 years’ experience, specialising in corporate finance work covering mergers and acquisitions, management buy outs and buy ins, joint venture arrangements and shareholder agreements.

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