Business giants support UK National Parks restoration project

Major UK businesses including Santander UK, Gatwick Airport and Southern Co-op have all backed a new National Parks project aimed at rolling out restoration schemes across the UK.

Business giants support UK National Parks restoration project

The UK has a total of 15 National Parks that contain almost a quarter of the UK’s peatland

The UK’s National Parks are working with global impact firm Palladium to launch the Revere project, designed to enable the restoration of natural habitats at scale. Revere aims to generate revenue by using ecosystems as a service that creates new income for farmers and landowners by improving the biodiversity of the local land.

National Parks Partnerships’ development director Naomi Conway said: “As COP26 approaches, we want to remind the UK of the role that the National Parks can play in fighting the impacts of climate change and improving biodiversity. This pioneering private sector support will get us closer to achieving the scale and pace of nature restoration that the UK so urgently needs.”

The project will be backed by private capital. Funders include financial services provider Santander UK, Gatwick Airport, Capita and Southern Co-op. Additional funding has been secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Defra.

Santander will support the restoration of degraded peatland in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Elsewhere, Gatwick and Southern Co-op will support the conversion of hundreds of acres of arable farmland in the South Downs National Park to woodland pasture.

Farmers in the Esk Valley in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park will also benefit from the project by improving natural flood defences and in the New Forest National Park, arable land is being restored to woodland.

Palladium’s managing director Jose Maria Ortiz said: “Taking effective action on climate change is urgent. In the short term, the answer is nature, while in the long term we need innovation. In both cases, investment at scale is necessary.

“There isn’t time for small-scale interventions anymore. The time is now for bold investments in nature with potential risks, because the alternative is continuing to destroy our planet.”

The UK has a total of 15 National Parks – 10 in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. They contain almost a quarter of the UK’s peatland, offering a significant opportunity for carbon storage.

Local recoveries

The Government recently opened a consultation to gain a better understanding of how nature-based solutions can assist with local strategies to contribute to rewilding and the Environment Bill, as part of a wider move across England to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitat.

The Local Nature Recovery Strategies are designed to drive the recovery of natural landscape and wildlife by creating frameworks for local areas to prioritise certain solutions and map new proposals.

The Strategies will form part of the national Nature Recovery Network, which plans to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitat outside protected sites.

Last year, local authorities in Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Northumberland were selected to trial these Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

Between them, the local authorities were tasked with creating wildflower habitats, woodlands, wetland and green spaces for people, as well as restoring peatlands. Peatland covers around 10% of the UK, with the national stock estimated to embody around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, but around 80% of this habitat is currently degraded.

Globally, the world is facing an $8.1trn financing gap into nature to help combat the climate crisis and ecological breakdown, according to UN reports that warn that annual investments into nature-based solutions need to increase fourfold by 2050.

The report found that current investment into nature-based solutions sits at $133bn – 0.10% of global GDP – the most of which comes from public sources. However, up to $4.1trn is required by 2030, which rises to $8.1trn 2050, a four-fold increase.

Matt Mace

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