Pembrokeshire Coast - Penlan Heathland
The United Kingdom’s network of 15 diverse National Parks covers about 10 per cent of the nation’s land, and offers a much-loved recreation and heritage experience for many of its citizens. But beyond their obvious benefits, these National Parks can offer something else; a key to fighting climate change.
This April, in response to recommendations from the government’s statutory climate advisors, the UK government announced carbon dioxide is to be cut by 78 per cent by 2035 compared with 1990 levels - an increase in ambition from the previous target of a 68 per cent reduction by 2030. Recognising the critical role that nature restoration can play in supporting this goal, UK National Parks have identified a funding gap of GBP 240 million needed for vital nature restoration.
From peatland and grassland restoration to woodland planting and management, and habitat creation, ensuring the restoration of this important protected land, can support biodiversity, mitigate climate change, reduce flood risks, improve water quality, and support local job creation.
But to meet the challenge, new approaches are needed. In an exciting partnership, Palladium is teaming up with the National Parks to develop a new way of securing public and private funding for the Park’s nature and natural resources.
In the run-up to COP26 in November, the collaboration aims to unlock one of the UK’s biggest environmental challenges – creating a sustainable funding model for nature restoration at scale. Though the National Parks have the knowledge and expertise to develop and deliver conservation and restoration projects on the ground, they have struggled to raise the necessary funding to carry it out further.
Bringing lessons from tropical programs such as Partnerships for Forests (P4F), which has supported 67 sustainable forest business models to date, Palladium’s CEO Christopher Hirst is excited to bring those same principles to the UK.
“Our partnership offers us an exciting opportunity to take our decades of experience working with businesses, government, and civil society to design business models that can restore and generate value from nature and apply them in the UK at a scale that can really make a difference.”
Across the world, the idea of valuing nature is gaining momentum.
But where forests were once viewed as a challenging investment, due to the length of time for investors to see returns and because assets are often ‘illiquid’, there’s been a recent groundswell of support for investing in the recovery of natural assets. Doing so will require creative solutions and business models that capture the value of nature as an asset by generating revenue from ecosystem services supported through restoration activities.
Gordon Watson, CEO of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park notes the importance of this work not just for the climate, but for the overall UK economy. “Our collaboration is enabling the UK’s National Parks to shape and strengthen how we can solve some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges.”
Already, the collaboration between Palladium and National Parks has generated a range of nature restoration financing pilot projects, which will test new models for delivering nature-based solutions in different National Parks and creating revenues from ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity gain, and water services.
As conversations continue to take place with companies eager to get involved with supporting this new approach to nature restoration, Palladium and National Parks expect to announce next steps in Summer 2021 ahead of COP26.
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