The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has recently introduced a groundbreaking 'Farming Toolkit' designed to aid UK farmers in exploring and benefiting from nature markets. This toolkit, tailored to various farm types, sizes, and regions, is a comprehensive resource offering insights into carbon credits, biodiversity net gain schemes, nutrient neutrality rules, and government green subsidies. Developed in collaboration with over 100 farmers, it provides practical, step-by-step guidance on navigating these emerging markets, fostering partnerships, securing buyers for nature credits, and accessing government subsidies.
This initiative addresses a crucial need identified by GFI's research: the lack of clear understanding among farmers regarding nature markets, which has been a significant obstacle in transitioning to more sustainable, climate-friendly agricultural practices. The toolkit simplifies this complexity and opens doors to private sector financing for enhancing the natural environment, backed by the government's Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).
Andy Slaney, NEIRF program manager at the Environment Agency, said that understanding the opportunities offered by nature markets "can feel like a daunting prospect" but that GFI's guidance launched today could help encourage more farmers to take advantage of them.
"This pioneering GFI Farming 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."
Since agriculture contributes to 11% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and farmers manage 70% of the land, their participation is pivotal in achieving the country's climate, nature, and biodiversity goals. As GFI suggests, nature markets provide a pathway for farmers to receive compensation for environmental improvements, diversifying income sources and enhancing both food security and climate resilience.
George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, welcomed the GFI guidance, arguing it was "of vital importance that farmers are rewarded for their work in delivering environmental outcomes and the management of natural capital."
"It is sad that in most cases, food markets and other markets for agricultural produce do not routinely factor in the environmental management costs involved," he said. "To date, farmers have been rewarded, to some extent, through public funding, but it is now good to see private markets being developed."
However, he warned that "in landlord-tenant situations, it will be essential to ensure tenant farmers have fair access to any private funding available for the environmental work they carry out."
"They must not be displaced by private sector agreements with landlords which sideline the legitimate and important interests of tenant farmers," he added.
Green Finance Minister Lord Benyon said the government was targeting £500m of private investment in nature recovery in England annually by 2027, rising to at least £1bn a year by 2030, adding that "farmers will be key to delivering this."
"This toolkit will be a valuable resource to give farmers and growers the information they need to develop their understanding of nature markets, providing them new opportunities to be paid for delivering environmental outcomes and contributing to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector," he said.