More than £500K announced for natural capital projects

1 November 2022

Seven pioneering private investment projects to restore nature and improve opportunities for people to access and enjoy it, while mitigating and adapting to climate change, have been awarded Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (IRNS) funding.

Grants of £580,166 will go to projects for work ranging from exploring urban flood management in Glasgow; looking at the science and funding opportunities behind  measuring and increasing biodiversity at Glencripesdale temperate rainforest; setting up a landscape-scale but locally-led initiative to help restore peat bogs across the Flow Country in Sutherland; combatting grazing pressure, invasive non-native species, climate change and water quality in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park; restoring peatland to help reduce carbon emissions around Moss of Cree in southwest of Scotland; and creating a natural capital laboratory at Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

The new grant scheme is a joint initiative led by NatureScot, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and National Lottery Heritage Fund, and encourages organisations and partnerships to develop projects which use private investment and market-based mechanisms to help restore the natural environment in Scotland.

The Green Finance Institute estimates that between £15 billion and £27 billion, in addition to current public funding, is needed over the next 10 years to restore nature across Scotland. Much of this will have to come from the private sector.

Announcing the successful IRNS projects today, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan said:  

“The right kind of investment in our land and seas is urgently required. We need to make Scotland the best place to responsibly invest in natural capital to deliver our social, environmental and economic policy objectives.

“The Scottish Government is investing £500m over the course of this parliament into our natural economy. Further to that, we’re committed to supporting growth of the project pipeline and addressing barriers to scaling up investment.

“I am encouraged to see that NatureScot, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s partnership initiative for an Investment Ready Nature Scotland (IRNS) fund has awarded funding to seven innovative projects.

“This important initiative will stimulate responsible investment into nature - helping to secure the future of our environment, communities and economy.”

NatureScot’s Director of Green Economy, Robbie Kernahan, said: Restoring 30% of Scotland’s nature by 2030 is an ambitious target, and the IRNS grants are part of the large-scale action needed to get us there. They will also provide essential evidence to show how new streams of private finance for restoring and protecting naturally functioning ecosystems can support cost-effective and rigorous solutions.

“We need to transform the scale of nature restoration in Scotland, and boosting our capability to attract financial investment into natural environment projects is key.”

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Simon Wightman, said: “We know that public and philanthropic funding, as important as they are, will not be enough to secure a brighter future for nature in Scotland. We are pleased to be working with our partners in NatureScot and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to fund seven great projects looking to demonstrate new ways of funding environmental restoration, which will provide the foundation for restoring nature in the places where they operate. They will also increase our understanding of the type of support needed and the policy and regulatory framework necessary to develop and grow the environmental finance market and ensure that the benefits of a healthy environment are shared as widely as possible.”

Caroline Clark, Director for Scotland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “This funding programme will kickstart a significant step forwards in equipping the natural heritage sector with the skills to bring in commercial investment to meet the climate change challenge. Ensuring long term sustainable finance for this vital work.

“Working in partnership with NatureScot and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has been essential to delivering this funding programme and it is new investment partnerships that will be key to its success.

“Continuing that collaborative approach will ensure the knowledge and experience gained by these seven projects will benefit the organisations delivering them and the wider sector across the UK and beyond. Our investment in the programme is made possible by National Lottery players and we thank them for their support.”

The competitive IRNS scheme was open to charities and other constituted non-profit organisations across Scotland. For-profit companies and unincorporated associations were encouraged to be part of partnerships but were not able to receive the grant. The grants cover up to 100% of eligible costs, including internal organisational capacity, specialist consultancy and technical advice, and all projects will be complete by 29 March 2024.

More information on Natural Capital and the IRNS fund, including a full list of the organisations which received grants in the first round, is available on the NatureScot website.