Science-based Markets for Nature Recovery

Lead Research Organisation: UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Department Name: Biodiversity (Wallingford)


1. Our economy, livelihoods and well-being are dependent on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Yet, species are declining at the fastest rate recorded, driven by habitat loss, climate change, pollution, invasive species and pathogens.
2. Public and philanthropic funding have been insufficient to reverse these declines, creating a private financing gap estimated at £5.6 billion pa in the UK. Achieving meaningful nature recovery requires a complex set of science-led approaches, which is problematic for financial institutions to both understand and engage with meaningfully, or to assess the outcomes.
3. There are four barriers to developing high-integrity investment markets for nature recovery: i) high quality ecological data and models are required to provide assurance that interventions will provide benefits to nature; ii) the potential for maximising multiple benefits of interventions for nature and minimising the risk of dis-benefits needs to be reflected in investment models, allowing multiple investors in aggregated projects to invest; iii) capability to target opportunities for environmental enhancement at scale is required to maximise multiple benefits to nature and increase resilience to climate change; and iv) once nature-based investments are instigated, reliable monitoring and verification to globally agreed standards is required to determine return on investment and reduce investment risk.
4. We will develop a community of experts from the financial sector, major landowners and ecological researchers to scope the knowledge required to address these barriers to developing a science-based investment markets for nature recovery, and support the wider ambitions of Phase II of the programme.
5. We will hold facilitated user-requirements workshops bringing together a network of leading financial sector partners, major landowners and researchers to identify key knowledge gaps and co-define the capabilities of any new data and tools to enable robust and high integrity nature positive investment markets.
6. Field meetings (labs) will be held at three experimental platforms undertaking nature-based interventions: a commercial farm, and large-scale saltmarsh and peatland restoration sites. Methodologies for verifying the outcomes of management interventions will be presented and assessed in situ. Structured stakeholder interviews will quantify acceptability and confidence in these tools.
7. We will apply our collective knowledge, together with new data and tools assessed, to three client case study examples supplied by finance partners. This will enable real world testing of existing data and tools to further elucidate critical knowledge gaps. We will publish the findings as case study examples alongside lessons learned.
8. Collectively, outputs from the project will have immediately beneficial outcomes for the finance sector and potential markets for nature-positive investments. Key input into Phase II will be our co-defined user requirements, knowledge gaps and a roadmap for delivering baseline information and research.


10 25 50