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Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund

Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund

A pioneering project to uncover new ways to restore nature in National Parks to help meet the UK’s emissions target of net zero by 2050.

What new approaches are we trialing?

We have formed a partnership with global impact consultancy Palladium through the Revere partnership to investigate the potential for private funding for nature restoration in the National Park.

The partnership was awarded £100,000 from the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) to run a pilot project to design and test a commercial model for:

  • restoring nature
  • improving biodiversity
  • managing nutrients
  • climate mitigation.

Three landowners took part: Barker-Mill Estate, Cadland Estate, and Forestry England.

Why are new approaches required?

We are pioneering new approaches to nature restoration and climate resilience to ensure it can happen at the scale and pace required to address the nature and climate crises.

The New Forest National Park faces a number of threats that put its nature at risk, for example climate change. Protecting the National Park’s nature by preserving its special sites and reserves is no longer sufficient. To mitigate the risks it faces, work is needed across the National Park to create bigger, better, more joined-up habitats.

The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) acknowledges private investment is needed to meet the scale of threats facing our natural environment. The UN warns that annual investments into nature need to increase fourfold by 2050 to adequately address the climate and nature emergency.

This makes clear the scale and pace of investment into nature restoration requires an immediate step-change.

Trial objectives
  • Design nature restoration and land use change options with each estate participating in the trial
  • Identify a range of ecosystem service revenue streams and explore opportunities to combine these in practice, via ‘stacking’ to make nature restoration financially viable using private sources of funding.
  • Design and test commercial models that calculate restoration costs, revenues from private finance opportunities, cashflows for projects, and landowner returns
  • Create a replicable and scalable concept to enable delivery across the National Park.
What has the trial revealed?

Opportunities to restore nature and create bigger, better, more joined-up habitats were identified across the landholdings. These included creating woodland, wetland, heath, hedgerows and meadows.

Opportunities were identified to:

  • Connect critical habitats within the wider New Forest landscape, improve biodiversity and build resilience to climate change
  • Create robust, long lasting and sustainable nature-based solutions to land-based CO2 emissions
  • Improve water quality through the reduction of nutrient run-off.

For each landowner, Palladium designed a bespoke cashflow model setting out the costs and revenues associated with nature restoration and resulting financial returns per year for 30 years.

Restoring nature on the Barker Mill and Cadland Estates was revealed as a profitable business case when using private funding.

Forestry England nature restoration plans were not eligible for accessing the ecosystem service markets and therefore private funding due to, for example, an existing Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation which places the land under legal obligation to be upkept for biodiversity already.

The trial has created a wealth of information on the state of the ecosystem services market in the New Forest National Park. Find out about market insights, information on each of the ecosystem services markets available in the National Park and the opportunities they present to landowners.

The trial has also raised awareness of the financially-sustainable opportunities that exist to restore nature and tackle climate change across the national park. It has also exposed the current barriers preventing further uptake in the market. This information is vital to the development of a green local economy and to national policy makers if these nascent ecosystem service markets are to develop successfully.

Project event
  • On 16 September 2022 we held an event to showcase the NEIRF project to local stakeholders including land managers, local planning authorities and public bodies with management responsibilities in the National Park. The event provided updates on the developing the ecosystem service markets.
Comments from trial participants

Simon Barker, Trustee, Barker Mill Estate:

‘The project has made me feel a lot more knowledgeable about how to derive income from making nature improvements on the landholdings I manage.’

Aldred Drummond, Owner, Cadland Estate:

‘It’s the first time we have embarked on an exercise like this and it has thrown up a number of opportunities for us.’

Michael Pittock, Head of Environment and Planning, Forestry England:

‘It has been great to work with other landowners and think about how we can deliver nature improvements at a landscape scale.’

Olivia McGregor, Net Zero with Nature Manager at the National Park Authority:

‘Furnishing our landowning partners with information on the potential for nature restoration on their land and the private (as opposed to government) sources of funding available is key to ensuring nature can continue to thrive in the National Park in the face of climate change.’

Next steps

The trial revealed a wealth of information on the state of the ecosystem services market in the New Forest National Park. It raised awareness of the financially-sustainable opportunities but also exposed the current barriers preventing further uptake in the market. We have taken the next step and created web content to ensure the trial results are captured for the benefit of local stakeholders. We hope this information equips land managers with the preliminary insights required to invest in nature restoration at an increased scale and pace. We will continue to work with local stakeholders to explore how private finance can support nature restoration and climate resilience in the National Park.

The information consists of:

  • Insights from the trial
  • Opportunities for ecosystem service market implementation locally
  • Private finance sources funding nature restoration locally.


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