Financing Natural Capital

Financing Natural Capital

A partnership project between FFCC and the PCF

There is growing interest in how farmers can be paid for the environmental benefits they can provide with a number of businesses now creating new opportunities such as carbon capture, payment for wildlife areas or planting crops that reduce risks of flooding and pollution,

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is working with the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) and Middlesex University, exploring these new markets for natural capital on a project that will aim to bridge the gap between large scale, sustainable financial investment, and everyday farming practice, enabling small and family farmers to benefit financially from the natural capital revolution, and access newly emergent natural capital markets and investment.

This study will  explore emerging natural capital markets and understand the opportunities and risks for farmers across the UK. The project will help small and medium sized family farms, and will examine how access to natural capital markets can be broadened to include smaller, tenanted and new entrant farmers. Through this project, the PCF and FFCC will aim to share and interpret research findings with farmer networks across the UK in a way that informs better on-farm planning and current actions.

Specifically, the project will research the following:

  • How natural capital markets are developing and the current state of emergent practice.
  • The potential economic and social impact of payments and investments to farmers.
  • How to ensure equal access for all farms, especially smaller or tenanted farms and new entrants.

The project will draw conclusions and recommendations on:

  • The key social, economic and environmental risks of developing private financial markets as an approach to increasing investment into restoration and preservation of ecosystems, and how such risks could be mitigated, and
  • How access to natural capital markets can be broadened to include smaller, tenanted and new entrant farmers.

Professor Fergus Lyon is Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research at Middlesex University and deputy director of the ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). He specialises in understanding how businesses prosper while tackling sustainability and social issues. His work has been funded by a range of government departments and charities with most recent research on social innovation for biodiversity. Fergus works 60% as an academic and 40% as a farmer, managing Easthall Farm, a medium sized mixed farm that was the first farm to become a B Corp in the UK. In this role he has been involved in a range of initiatives such as Jordan’s Farm Partnership, LEAF Marque, Fair to Nature, and Countryside Stewardship.

Dr Amy Burnett is a researcher and a practitioner and has supported several community-led initiatives in rural communities in the South West. Her research focuses on the role of civil society groups and local government in promoting innovative and sustainable development. Recent work includes a project exploring biodiversity net gain payments to farmers and nature-based solutions. She is actively carrying out research on incentivising sustainable action.

Advisory group members:
  • Helen Avery Green Finance Institute;
  • David Fursdon FFCC Commissioner, TIAH, Dyson Farming, PCF Trustee;
  • Harry Greenfield CLA; Joseph Gridley Soil Association Exchange;
  • Matthew Morris Duchy of Cornwall;
  • Sarah Nolleth A4S;
  • Chris Sparrow Recce Rural;
  • David Hill FFCC Commissioner, Environment Bank;
  • Tony Greenham FFCC, South West Mutual;
  • Sue Pritchard FFCC;
  • Keith Halstead PCF
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