Habitat banking investment scheme wins Government funding

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BBOWT is thrilled to announce that its partnership project ‘The Wildlife Trusts' Habitat Banking Investment Model’ has been backed by the Government’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).

The project is among 27 schemes nationwide to benefit from the pioneering new fund to drive private investment in nature and tackle climate change, Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England announced today.

The partnership includes four Wildlife Trusts – Berks Bucks and Oxon, Warwickshire, Cheshire and Surrey - and the environmental impact investment advisors Finance Earth. This scheme will help to compensate for the damage caused to natural habitats by large-scale developments and help accelerate nature’s recovery.

The funding will enable the partnership to create three pilot habitat bank sites in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Cheshire over the next year.

Dr Prue Addison, Conservation Strategy Director at BBOWT said:

“Habitat Banking is designed to address developers’ need to deliver biodiversity net gain (BNG), which will soon be made law through the Environment Bill.  The scheme enables habitats to be created or restored before any biodiversity loss is caused by developments, rather than afterwards, which is much better news for wildlife.

“This is a game changer as it means that habitat banks can be planned strategically to support large-scale habitat creation projects that benefit nature and people, creating a pipeline of biodiversity credits for the development sector."

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Delivering BNG strategically aligns the charitable purposes of the four Wildlife Trusts and their ecological consultancies. We believe this will bring will bring credibility and assurance to developers seeking to achieve BNG. The scheme will also accelerate the delivery of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, and will support green job creation. 

The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Funding (NEIRF) will support the partnership to design the financial, governance and contracting structure of the three habitat banking pilot sites.

The work on the pilot sites will help create a scalable habitat banking investment model, which could be used by even more Wildlife Trusts, and will feed into the creation of a Natural Capital Investment Company vehicle, led by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

James Mansfield, Managing Director of Finance Earth said:

“We need a locally-led, high quality and lasting biodiversity net gain model, which can be scaled to deliver the objectives of the Defra 25 Year Environment Plan. The Wildlife Trusts have a unique role to play in developing and safeguarding precious local habitats. That's why we are delighted to be working with four leading Wildlife Trusts to develop and test new financing structures that aim to unlock significant investment in local nature recovery priorities."

Other projects receiving the NEIRF funding focus on tackling climate change and restoring nature through schemes such as woodland and habitat creation, peatland restoration, sustainable drainage and river catchment management.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“To tackle the environmental challenges we face from climate change and biodiversity loss, it is crucial that domestic natural environment projects are able to attract private investment alongside support from the public sector. 

“Unleashing innovation and growing new sources of finance, such as through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, are fundamental for delivering nature recovery and developing nature-based solutions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”