Summer Davies l Palladium - Jun 13 2022
Restoring Nature in the UK’s National Parks: From Desk to Moors

North York Moors

Credit: Summer Davies

Nearly every generation in recent history has believed they were facing seemingly insurmountable challenges unlike anything seen before. World wars, financial crises, and pandemics have been treated as the emergencies they are. All the while, the creeping threats of climate change and biodiversity loss have loomed ever closer and gone largely ignored, though perhaps presenting an even greater threat than all the rest.

Humanity is now at a tipping point where we either choose to protect and restore our planet, bringing it back from the brink of destruction, or we attempt to live in a world unrecognisable from that of the David Attenborough documentaries and childhood memories of our grandparents.

Revere, a partnership between Palladium and the UK National Parks, is working to restore habitats and biodiversity, making landscapes and communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The key feature of our approach is that we aim to use private investment to do this and provide an income to land managers for maintaining the restored landscapes well into the future.

We hope to demonstrate that managing our land for nature doesn’t have to be a fully government funded ‘good deed’, but instead can be a profitable and sustainable business decision for farmers and landowners across the UK.

From Desk to Moors

As a project developer with Revere, it’s my job to design nature restoration schemes on varying scales that can one day be delivered in real life. Each of these projects must not only be achievable to implement, but also be profitable, so that we can provide a fair and sustainable income to land managers.

Existing in a corporate setting and working on multiple projects inevitably fosters a routine of jumping between tasks, participating in a calendar full of meetings, trying to carve out time to dig into technical exercises and finding opportunities to tick things off lists wherever possible. And each day, I make decisions that impact the potential success or failure of projects.

Every other month or so I visit a National Park to get to know the farmers and landowners that may host a Revere project in the future and the landscape that they steward. These trips take me away from overseeing the completion of tasks from an imaginary pedestal, monitoring all the moving parts and choices that need to be made.

"The critical job of safeguarding these habitats and delivering the intended environmental outcomes sits with those that live on the land and are responsible for the way it evolves."

Standing in a field watching a cow drink lazily from a river or shielding yourself from the raging wind as you look over a valley lined with patchwork farms and topped with heather moorland, it’s hard to recall quite how it all links to the seventeenth version of the spreadsheet you were reviewing just the day before. Similarly, when speaking to farmers about the uncertainty of grain prices, frequency of devastating storms, or stories that have built the community in which we are standing, the impact of the decisions made from behind my computer screen, feels exposed under a bright light.

Restoring Nature in Partnership

The reality is that when I leave somewhere like the North York Moors or the Broads to go back to my desk, the land managers I’ve been working with remain. They have been there long before Revere was a concept, and they will be there long after any projects we design are implemented. And, if a project I design is implemented, the consequences will stay with land managers for decades to come. It’s not me that will sow the wildflower seed, adjust the grazing pattern of a flock, or transition to an agroforestry system in a newly planted native woodland.

The critical job of safeguarding these habitats and delivering the intended environmental outcomes sits with those that live on the land and are responsible for the way it evolves.

Seeing all of this never fails to remind me that the decisions I make must stand the test of time. They must be resilient to the changing of governments, fluctuations of markets and still, after all that, make sense in a landscape where weather systems are shifting and species are adapting to everchanging conditions due to climate change.

What I’ve learned is that getting peatland restored, trees planted or bringing a river back to life is a logistical and commercial challenge, but that’s only part of the story. It is my belief that nature recovery projects in the UK and around the world will only be successful if the future custodian of the habitat is an active part of the design.

If we are to make this climate transition justly and permanently, we need to bridge the gap between theory and reality. And not just in a token ‘stakeholder engagement in our strategy’ kind of way. We must walk in the shoes of those who will take up the mantel of nature stewardship and ask each other: will this plan make sense in this valley, for these people, and for that outcome in 20, 50 or even 100 years’ time?

For more information, visit Revere or contact