Source: UK National Parks.
A hedge being planted in Wensleydale to create a 'highway' for dormice, an endangered species, to move between areas of woodland
This week, the British Ecological Society released their landmark 2021 report on nature-based solutions for climate change in the UK. The report, which offers a complete assessment of the potential of nature-based solutions in the UK and identifies their potential for delivering biodiversity and climate change benefits and which habitats could most benefit from the solutions.
Nature-based solutions seek to protect or enhance nature in a way that helps tackle climate change and other sustainability challenges, while also benefitting biodiversity, improving human well-being, and providing economic benefits through monetary value and job creation.
Though, the report stipulates, nature-based solutions cannot be seen as a substitute for all climate change action, rather they should be utilised in conjunction with other conservation actions and doing so can make important contributions to Net Zero and climate change targets.
One habitat at the top of the British Ecological Society’s list of priorities are UK peatlands. Peatlands store upwards of 3 billion tonnes of carbon in the UK but are emitting an estimated 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually as a result of drainage and degradation. Restoring peatlands can help mitigate climate change by slowing those damaging emissions.
“Nature based solutions that can deliver climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes need to be scaled across the UK,” notes Palladium’s Director of Nature-Based Solutions Andrew Sutherland
“Based on our analysis of the UK CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget, peatland restoration has the potential to contribute to one-third of the UK’s land use driven carbon removals potential by 2050 – making it the priority habitat for restoration in the UK,” adds Sutherland.
A significant proportion of that carbon removal potential could be achieved within the UK’s National Parks, which account for 24% of all peatland in the UK according to satellite data.
Building Back Better and Restoring Nature
Yadvinder Malhi, the President Elect of the British Ecological Society, adds that the timing couldn’t be better for shifting focus to nature-based solutions. “The desire to ‘build back better’ after the COVID pandemic, together with a radical new rethinking of land use policy and incentives, has led to a burst of interest and creative thinking about how the landscapes and ecosystems of this biodiversity-depleted country can be better managed to facilitate biodiversity recovery and contribute towards addressing climate change, while also providing for the welfare and livelihoods of local communities.”
But, implementing these critical solutions require both unilateral support and sources of funding, and as the report states, “delivering nature-based solutions at the scale necessary to make a significant difference will require state investment as well as changes in the legislative and policy architecture to encourage private investment.”
Garnering that crucial private investment is a focus for Palladium’s Nature-Based Solutions team who recently announced a partnership with the UK National Parks to catalyse vital private finance for nature. The partnership will develop nature-based solution projects across the National Parks with monetisable ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity outcomes, water quality services and flood risk reduction services.
To fund restoration activities Palladium and the National Parks will secure deals with off-takers interested in purchasing credits and investors that can provide upfront funding for restoration in exchange for a return.
“Public money alone will be insufficient to deliver restoration at this scale in the UK. According to the UK CCC an estimated GBP 39 billion will be needed to transform the UK land sector into a net carbon sink by 2050 – of this around GBP 68 million per year would need to be earmarked for peatland restoration,” notes Sutherland.
“Through our partnership with National Parks we are hoping to leverage significant amounts of public and private finance to support this transition and restore vast areas of habitats, including peatlands, and woodland creation across the National Parks,” Sutherland adds.
Naomi Conway, Development Director, National Parks Partnerships notes how important peatland restoration is for the UK’s climate change mitigation through nature-based solutions. “The UK’s National Parks offer a huge opportunity to restore peatland at scale. Private sector funding will be needed to meet the challenge, and we are already talking with companies seeking to take a leadership role. We’re hopeful that more will want to come on board when they realise the incredible positive environmental impacts of restoring peatland.”
While policy changes will be critical to implementing nature-based solutions, so will creative financial vehicles and new approaches such as this partnership, to fully realise and prioritise restoration projects with the potential to help mitigate and adapt to climate change and further meet both global and national climate goals.
Learn more about Palladium's partnership with UK National Parks and for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.