The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has published a toolkit designed to equip the UK farming community with an understanding of nature markets to help them assess whether they could provide a suitable new income stream for their business.
Commissioned by DEFRA, the Farming Toolkit for Assessing Opportunities in Nature Markets is a free, independent resource that aims to support farmers in attracting private sector finance to pay for additional improvements to the natural environment, alongside assessing their eligibility for funding via the Natural Environmental Investment Readiness Fund.
The toolkit was designed and tested with a group of over 100 farmers, representing various farm sizes, agricultural sectors, ownership structures and regions. It includes an introductory guide to nature markets and glossary, and detailed step-by-step guidance from assessing land, through engaging with other farmers, to attracting buyers and the final selling of credits or units. Case studies of farmers already engaging in nature markets accompany each milestone, as do useful resources and audio clips.
According to GFI, farmers are central to supporting the UK meeting its environmental targets, given the fact that they manage 70% of the UK’s landmass, by transitioning to nature-positive and low-emission farming practices. Some 11% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are from agriculture, putting farmers on the frontlines of the net zero transition.
Nature markets – including carbon credits, biodiversity net gain and nutrient neutrality – offer one of several opportunities for farmers to be paid to deliver additional environmental improvements, thereby diversifying income streams and boosting resilience.
The toolkit builds upon findings from the GFI’s Financing a Farming Transition report, which identified a lack of clarity on nature markets as a barrier to financing the transition to more sustainable agriculture.
On a global scale, with the final Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures recommendations being adopted alongside an evolving policy landscape, there is greater impetus on corporates and financial institutions to integrate nature-related risks and opportunities into their business models. With the Biodiversity Net Gain trial period ending in the UK, developers must now invest in nature, making it an imperative to invest and engage with farmers and nature project developers.