Money makes the world go round. At least that’s what they say. I was sure it was the fact that there are no forces acting to counteract the process that began 4.6 billion years ago when our solar system was formed with swirling eddies of gas and matter, but nevertheless, money is pretty important to pretty much everything (with the exception of planetary motion).
Take the climate emergency. We have a rush to plant trees in order to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. Regardless of whether we would be better off encouraging regenerative agriculture practices that store carbon in the soil, or creating wetlands that draw carbon down, we need money to make it happen.
We also have an urgent need to adapt to the changes in climate that are already happening. Flood risk and drought will more extreme and more frequent, but natural solutions provide the best, most cost effective means by which to increase resilience to these threats. But we still need the money to pay for them. Can private money be leveraged to top-up public funds directed to this end?
The same is true with the ecological emergency. Government are rallying round a call to halt species decline by 2030 - a laudable target that requires a strong Office of Environmental Protection to enforce it. One of the flagship DEFRA policies to help steer us towards this target requires upper tier local
authorities to develop and adopt Local Nature Recovery Strategies. Money is required to ensure delivery against the evidence and priorities within said strategy.
Or the challenge of house building. Land-use change through development has disproportionate impacts on the benefits provided by nature. So another flagship 25YEP policy - Biodiversity Net Gain - has been introduced to create funds with which to improve the natural environment.
Finally, there is farming. Farming accounts for 70% of land use in Gloucestershire, and has the potential to improve all the issues outlined above. Government is designing a new Environmental Land Management scheme, and there will be three levels through which landowners can secure money.
There are limited but clear funding streams for delivery of these not mutually exclusive objectives and policy areas. To ensure we deliver the most with the least, we need to coalesce around some principles:
Money should stay in Gloucestershire
Money should be targeted, based on the evidence of the natural capital maps and nature recovery network, so as to deliver multifunctional changes to land management
Money should be spent in alignment with the strategic objectives of the county
External (to Gloucestershire) funds need to be leveraged in order to rise to meet the challenges we have in front of us
Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership is working towards the creation of a Natural Capital Investment Trust. This trust could receive, blend and distribute biodiversity net gain money, carbon money, ELM payments and charitable funds in order to improve the environmental resilience of our county, benefitting the people, wildlife and economy of Gloucestershire.
Our planet will continue to spin long after we have gone, but money can change the plight of its inhabitants. Gloucestershire's Natural Capital Investment Trust wont spin the world, but it can play a part in turning the ecological and climate emergencies around locally.