New support to help farmers access private investment has been announced by the government to help support nature recovery on farms.
On 19th June, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) unveiled the launch of an additional round of the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).
The new round aims to help farmers to come together at a landscape scale to combine their offer to investors. The round, which opens later this year, will be the first time the fund focuses specifically on the farming industry.
To date, 86 projects across England have received grants of up to £100,000 through two competitive rounds of the £10 million NEIRF in 2021 and 2022.
DEFRA Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “We must continue to support farmers to keep our nation fed while also safeguarding the valuable biodiversity and landscapes we rely on. It is an important step forward in bringing together farmers and financiers to invest in nature and unlock new opportunities to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of farm businesses.”
The NEIRF funds projects that have the potential to produce revenue from the benefits nature provides to attract and repay investment, as well as projects able to produce an investment model that can be scaled up and reproduced.
DEFRA has also announced the start of the piloting phase of a new version of the Green Finance Institute’s (GFI) investment readiness toolkit. This aims to provide a tailored framework offering farmers advice on how to create investable nature finance projects.
Why do farmers need to embrace biodiversity?
- Increasing biodiversity, particularly wildlife populations, can benefit farmers by improving agricultural productivity potential.
- Biodiversity is important for the regulation of ecosystem processes and delivery of ecosystem services.
- Farming approaches can be tailored to benefit wildlife and biodiversity, which in turn can increase ecosystem stability in the face of environmental change, without reducing the potential for agricultural yield.
As the global human population continues to rise, more land will need to be committed to agricultural production to meet a likely rise in demand for food.
Agri-environment schemes in the UK have actively promoted the introduction of farm management approaches which benefit our native flora and fauna. Wildlife-friendly farming strategies can support wildlife that is considered beneficial in an agricultural context, such as those which engage in pollination or as natural enemies of crop pests. This in turn may have positive influences on agricultural production.
Evidence to date suggests that providing habitat and food for wildlife on farms may have positive effects on potential production yield, as well as improving the potential for ecosystem service delivery.
As a subsidiary of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT), we are very supportive of the Trust’s work with a range of farmers on projects that benefit nature whilst ensuring that farms are able to operate profitably. Feedback from our colleagues at NWT highlights that farmers are also increasingly keen to embrace natural processes to help protect precious soils, prevent pollution of watercourses and reduce reliance on expensive chemical fertilisers. Embracing nature can also be good for the bottom line as well as the environment.
How EMEC can help?
Our role as the environmental consultant is as much about protecting habitats as it is about offering added value advice to land owners and farmers who have an invested interest in increasing biodiversity within their land to support their agricultural efforts.
Most farmers, and land owners will have some areas of what they might consider to be low yield land as part of their portfolio. This type of land could be enhanced to further boost biodiversity within the area.
EMEC has a proven track record of working with farmers to increase biodiversity through implementing schemes such as District Level Licencing.
Our biodiversity net gain (BNG) offering includes;
- Conducting a BNG Assessment and advising farmers on how best to achieve their BNG target
- Enhancing existing habitats and creating new habitats with high biodiversity value
- We prepare long-term ecological management and monitoring plans for a site. Our land management team can deliver on those plans in the long-term and satisfy all long-term management and reporting requirements.
- In EMEC you have a consultancy that can project manage the entire BNG process through its whole service provision.
If we can help provide advice to help you assess the viability of any plans you might have or you have low yield land that you think might be suitable to use, please get in touch.