Nature finance investment fund surpasses £4 million mark

21 May 2024

From the Solway Firth to the Highlands, and from rural farms to urban greenspace, new funding totalling more than £1 million for eight projects will support Scotland’s next steps to increase investment in nature.

NatureScot and The National Lottery Heritage Fund have announced the latest funding under the Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland programme (FIRNS). The fund was established to support responsible private investment in nature that creates benefits which are shared by Scotland’s unique habitats and ecosystems and its communities.

With the latest funding news FIRNS, which launched in 2023, has created almost £4.8 million of support for nature-based investment in Scotland confirmed.

The eight projects who will receive support from the £1,055,117 funding announcement include agricultural, fishery, woodland, and urban and rural nature restoration. They are:

  • Soil Association - Governance mechanisms for whole-farm and farm cluster natural capital project implementation.
  • Dumfries and Galloway - Solway Coast and Marine Project (SCAMP).
  • City of Edinburgh Council - Edinburgh New Gardens - Urban Nature Restoration Investment Scheme.
  • The Knoydart Foundation - The Knoydart Credit:A Partnership of Nature and Community.
  • Fisheries Management Scotland - Developing a portfolio of river restoration investment packages and delivery support measures for a source to sea, nature finance model.
  • Deciding Matters Limited - Community Benefit Certification Plug-In.
  • Galloway Fisheries Trust - Annan Riparian Restoration Network.
  • Ecosulis Ltd - Project L-AND

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “If we are going to meet our aim of halting biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions and restoring and regenerating biodiversity by 2045, public and responsible private investment in Scotland’s nature will be essential.

“FIRNS is supporting innovation and projects that will create ethical natural capital investment opportunities and bring benefits to communities. This work with NatureScot and the National Lottery Heritage Fund is creating a pipeline of nature-based projects that can meet demand from responsible buyers and investors.”

Caroline Clark, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland said: “Scotland has a huge wealth of natural capital. FIRNS supports communities to unlock this potential through responsible and sustainable investment with benefits for people and communities at its heart.

“We are delighted to join with NatureScot in announcing funding for these eight projects. It is particularly exciting that alongside the projects the FIRNS community of practice is sharing knowledge, ideas and experience gained to continue to attract investment that is good for Scotland’s nature, communities and economy.”

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “Partnerships are at the heart of how Scotland will succeed in protecting more of its land and sea for nature, by creating the right relationships and conditions for everyone to play their part in this vital collective effort. The inspiring recipients of the second round of FIRNS funding are leading the way in devising new approaches and financial models to ensure Scotland can scale up its progress for nature, so that our communities and nature both thrive.”

Soil Association Project Manager Clive Thomas said: “The Soil Association and our partners at Finance Earth, Woodland Trust and Soil Association Certification welcome the funding for our Round 2 FIRNS project. Our farmed landscapes are crucial to nature recovery and we have seen some important natural capital projects by large landowners and estates in recent years. However, it has been more difficult for small and medium size farmers to get involved.

“We aim to explore mechanisms for wider participation in nature markets by adopting a whole farm approach to natural capital projects, as well as mechanisms to help individual farms group together to scale up delivery.”

A total of 35 projects have now been awarded funding totalling £4,759,129 under the NatureScot and The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s FIRNS programme. They cover several broad areas of nature investment including market infrastructure, woodland, peatland, agricultural, marine and coastal, freshwater and urban.

A Community of Practice (CoP) has been established with the support of Social Investment Scotland, that brings together FIRNS, IRNS and Riverwoods Investment Readiness Pioneer projects. The CoP provides a forum to exchange the knowledge gained through these projects and to amplify their impact by sharing with a wider audience of those with an interest in investment-ready nature opportunities.

Read more about these funded projects at The Facility for Investment Ready Nature In Scotland (FIRNS).