Funding package for pioneering nature projects to identify carbon capture

21 February 2023 by Tom Townsend
blog author

Natural England has announced a £4.3 million funding package to trial carbon capturing and benefit a handful of projects across England.

CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere using nature-based solutions which will not only tackle challenges affecting people and nature but also prevent emissions from agricultural land and degraded natural sites.

The projects, which will test the effectiveness of different landscapes by acting as carbon sinks, form a vital component of meeting the UK’s climate goals.

The six new projects will see the restoration of landscapes across England (more than 500 hectares of each), spanning Plymouth to Northumberland. Experts will study the carbon capture and storage process across diverse habitats such as forests and wetlands.

The funding will support the following projects:

  • Wild Exmoor Carbon Sequestration Project: The National Trust has received almost £1 million to deliver targeted nature-based solutions and carbon capture across its 670-hectare Watersmeet estate.

  • Wansbeck Restoration for Climate Change (WRCC): Just short of £600,000 has been awarded to assess how nature-based solutions can thrive in a farmed landscape. The project, managed by Groundwork NE & Cumbria, will restore mixed habitats – grasslands, peaty pockets and woodlands – and demonstrate how landowners can collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote carbon sequestration.

  • Plymouth’s Natural Grid Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change at the Landscape Scale project: Approximately £1 million will support Plymouth City Council, to work alongside the National Trust in restoring natural habitats and create local solutions to climate change in the urban environment.

  • Derwent Forest Landscape Recovery Project, part of the Derwent Connections Program: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded £645,000 for its partnership-led pilot project. It aims to create connected habitats between the Northern and National Forests to allow movement of species in response to climate change. It will also develop a scheme to support landowners in creating and expanding resilient ecosystems.  

  • The Oxfordshire–Buckinghamshire Freshwater Network: The Freshwater Habitats Trust program has been awarded more than £780,000 to focus on smaller, peat-dominated wetlands, floodplains, wet grasslands and waters sequestering carbon in the landscape. It will also help the Trust build the Freshwater Network for wilder, wetter, cleaner and connected freshwaters.

  • Severn Solutions for Nature’s Recovery (SSNR): Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been awarded more than £417,000 to work with Hasfield Court Estate to restore a 500-hectare estate in the Severn Vale. Landscape connectivity will involve the creation of wood pasture, traditional orchards and species-rich grassland to create habitats for key pollinator species, nesting opportunities for birds and foraging networks for protected bat species.

Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change at the Landscape Scale is a partnership led by Natural England with the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew at Wakehurst, Sussex. The collaboration will better understand the value of nature-based solutions in tackling climate change and will deliver against the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: “From trees, hedges and grasslands that absorb carbon from the air to the peat-rich soils that hold it in the ground, there are huge opportunities to catch carbon while achieving other benefits at the same time, including increasing our ability to adapt to climate change impacts. The simple fact is that when it comes to our net zero ambitions nature is our biggest ally and the more we can do to restore it the better.

“Getting the scale of benefits we need requires working together collaboratively across entire landscapes. This is only going to be possible if we forge broad partnerships and this is increasingly the case as different sectors see that they are all part of the solution to the climate and nature challenges that the world and this country are setting out to meet”.

Data collated from the sites will contribute to tackling climate change and each project will assess how to merge public and private sources of funding to further support improvement of the natural environment.

The Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change Program is a £12.5 million program launched in 2021 to increase cross-government collaboration and address society’s most challenging problems including climate change, biodiversity loss and land use change.

In addition, the funding will enable Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Kew to conduct further scientific research into the value of nature-based solutions and green finance models.

Tom Townsend, Principal Consultant, Food & Beverage - Sustainable Business at Acre UK, said: “It’s always positive to see new programs of investment, helping us to find long-term solutions to the climate crisis.

“However, the speed at which we are moving remains too slow, and the implementation of large-scale programs in the UK remains woefully limited.”

The Program will run until March 2024.