Peatland restoration projects are among those receiving grants of up to £100,000 under the second round of the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) announced today (Tuesday, May 31) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.

The fund helps to develop projects which can demonstrate a return on its investment by capturing the value of carbon, water quality, biodiversity and other benefits provided by natural assets such as woodlands, peatlands and rivers.

Revenue will be generated through the sale of carbon storage, improvements in biodiversity, natural flood management benefits and reduced water treatment costs.   

In this round of the fund a total of 50 projects are set to receive the grants.

Examples of the projects include rewetting lowland peat near Doncaster to grow plant fibre material to use as padding for clothes; habitat enhancement, i.e. tree planting and brownfield land regeneration in the Liverpool City Region; restoring peatlands in the Great Fen, Cambridgeshire; and the establishment a Carbon Code for agroforestry systems.

Generating revenue

“Given the scale of the environmental challenges we face….. it is crucial all parts of society play a part and we attract finance from diverse sources to help support this work,” said Minister for Green Finance, Lord Benyon. This is why each of these projects has a revenue-generating component that will be shown to investors.

For example, the peatland rewetting project near Doncaster will attract investors by showing how revenue can be generated from the sale of biodiversity credits and carbon units, as a means of compensating for biodiversity loss and carbon emissions, as well as through the creation of sustainable textiles.  

“The finance community is increasingly aware that investors want to understand how their savings deliver good outcomes on the ground,” said chair of the Environment Agency and interim chair of the Green Finance Institue, Emma Howard Boyd CBE.

“What we learn from these projects will help the private sector invest in activities that deliver both environmental improvements and generate returns.

“By showing what works we can attract a wider pool of investors to fund work on a much larger scale that helps protect people from climate impacts and restores nature.

“Given the current acceleration of climate risks to the global economy, we need this to happen at pace.”