Investing in nature
POSTED ON September 22, 2023 BY James Garry
Environment Minister Gillian Martin visited the Water of Leith Catchment in Inverleith Park
New funding to help projects grow.
Over £3 million has been distributed to nature projects across Scotland to help them scale up their conservation work and ensure the benefits are shared with local communities.
The Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) is co-funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with the Scottish Government and NatureScot. It aims to help create a pipeline of market-ready projects to help attract responsible private investment in Scotland’s nature.
27 diverse projects will share over £3.6 million this year; approximately £1.8 million from public funds and another £1.8 million matched by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The funded projects are spread across Scotland: from the Solway Firth to Shetland, Fife, across central Scotland, and the Hebrides.
Examples include using private finance to restore river catchments to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, while creating community assets such as growing spaces and improved greenspace.
Environment Minister Gillian Martin visited the Water of Leith Catchment in Inverleith Park – one of the projects to benefit from the new funding. She said:
“The Scottish Government is already investing in nature at scale – with £65 million in the nature restoration fund and £250 million peatland restoration alone.
“However, given the scale of the challenges we face, public investment alone will not be sufficient to meet our ambitious climate change and nature targets. That is why both public and responsible private investment in Scotland’s natural environment will be essential.
“As set out in our new Programme for Government, we are committed to taking forward our distinctive market vision in Scotland – that is a market for responsible investment that contributes to a just transition by benefitting the environment and supporting communities.
“The Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland will support a diverse range of projects – from those seeking to restore coastal saltmarshes, to iconic Atlantic rainforests, peatlands, rivers, lochs, farmland biodiversity and green spaces for nature and people. Encouraging responsible private investment will help ensure these projects can continue to grow and thrive.”
NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said:
“As we tackle the climate-nature crisis with a growing urgency, everyone has the responsibility to get us to net zero. These first-round FIRNS grants offer communities, companies, charities and individuals across Scotland the opportunity to develop bold business cases and financial models which will attract the investment required to restore nature.
“I’m inspired by the creativity and ambition these projects show us as we scale up our efforts to halt biodiversity loss and create a nature-rich country for us all. A thriving natural capital market that benefits the restoration of our coasts, rainforests, peatlands, farmlands and urban greenspaces is great for communities and great for nature.”
The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland Caroline Clark said:
“FIRNS is an exciting opportunity to explore new ideas on how we attract vital investment to support the restoration of nature in Scotland. We are funding over £1.8 million in grants to develop investment models that are good for nature, good for communities and good for the economy.
“At The National Lottery Heritage Fund we are passionate about communities being at the heart of what we fund, and community involvement is vital to these projects. It is thanks to National Lottery Players that we can support this innovative work.”
The projects will make a key contribution to helping grow the use of responsible private investment and market-based mechanisms to finance the restoration of Scotland’s nature, while bringing benefits to communities.
These will be undertaken by a range of organisations, frequently working in partnership, and including private individuals and companies, community organisations, charities and trusts, and public bodies.
FIRNS has also received strategic support on its design and delivery from the Green Finance Institute (GFI). The GFI is an independent organisation that collaborates with government, communities, NGOs, land managers and the private sector to support the flow of capital towards nature restoration and a nature-positive transition.