New toolkit seeks to help farmers assess nature market opportunities

Natural capital markets are a new and developing feature in farming and land management
Natural capital markets are a new and developing feature in farming and land management

A first-of-its-kind toolkit seeks to help farmers assess nature market opportunities, diversify revenue streams and unlock finance for nature restoration.

The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has today published the free independent resource to help equip farmers with their understanding of nature markets.

These include carbon credits, biodiversity net gain and nutrient neutrality, while the toolkit will also support farmers with their eligibility for Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) funding.

This offers individual grants of up to £100,000 to farmers that want to explore nature markets and other ways of leveraging private finance for nature.

GFI's new toolkit, designed in partnership with Defra and currently in beta mode, was tested by over 100 farmers, representing various farm sizes, sectors, ownership structures, and regions.

"It provides a framework for farmers to identify and assess nature market opportunities," a spokesperson from the institute said.

"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."

It builds upon findings from a recent report by GFI which identified a lack of clarity on nature markets as a barrier to financing the transition to more sustainable agriculture.

Given that farmers are the custodians of the countryside, managing 70% of land, they are seen as central to supporting the UK meeting its environmental targets.

Figures show that some 11% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are from agriculture, putting them on the frontlines of the net zero transition.

Nature markets offer one of several opportunities for farmers to be paid to deliver additional environmental improvements, thereby diversifying income streams.

Responding to the toolkit's launch, Andy Slaney, NEIRF programme manager at Environment Agency, says that understanding the opportunities that nature markets provide can feel like a daunting prospect.

"This pioneering toolkit is an invaluable resource for the farming community when considering how to enhance nature and improve the climate resilience of their businesses whilst seeking to maintain a suitable income," he said.

"We want nature markets to help the farming community transition to a sustainable state, this toolkit will help anyone embarking on that journey.”