Nature Finance

Leveraging private money to fund high-integrity nature recovery and nature-based solutions.

Picture of two people walking the ridgeway trail in Oxfordshire


Nature is valuable in its own right - and we also rely on it for our own survival. But it is in decline, and we know that there is currently insufficient funding available to support its recovery – the national deficit is estimated to be in the region of £56bn by 2030, and the Oxfordshire figure is estimated at over £800million. At the same time, businesses increasingly want and need to fund nature projects, whether through voluntary or mandatory markets.

We are working to develop a delivery framework for natural capital investment in Oxfordshire that has real integrity. This includes developing and supporting a pipeline of projects that can be invested in to enhance ecosystem service provision in the county. Our nature finance strategy describes how this market would function.

Read the OLNP's nature finance strategy

Our objectives

Support development of the pipeline of investment-ready projects, especially for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

To make the most of the emergent policy of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) there are many barriers that need to be removed. One of these barriers is the lack of offsite units available for developers to purchase so they can deliver BNG. This has the potential to worsen Oxfordshire's housing shortage, but also threatens our ability to ensure BNG delivers the best outcomes for nature's recovery. Working with partners, we will explore and implement an effective solution that stimulates the availability of offsite BNG credits. One way of doing this is by the establishment of a revolving fund for nature, which offers short term loans (or grants) to farmers or landowners which would allow them to get ready to sell BNG units.

Explore establishment of a nature-based carbon sequestration market for Oxfordshire

With funding from the Housing and Growth Deal, released in alignment with the Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan for Oxfordshire, OLNP will develop a new and innovative approach to carbon offsetting, enabling Oxfordshire's businesses and local authorities’ opportunities to invest in nature-based carbon sequestration schemes within the county, increasing investment in nature-based solutions whilst helping to reach shared net zero ambitions. We will build on existing work in this area, such as the Authority-Based Insetting approach being developed by Anthesis, to deliver multi-functional nature based offsetting schemes.

Activate a marketplace for the sale of wider environmental services

In Oxfordshire there is insufficient clarity on:

(1) customers who would be willing to pay for nature-based services
(2) exactly what those services would be to those customers
(3) the practical arrangements through which those services could be transacted.

These demand-side challenges are not unusual. Ecosystem service markets are nascent and confusing. While there is much work around specific markets, such as carbon and BNG, there has been comparatively less on how to sort through the range of opportunities that might be commercialised from a mixed landscape. While there has been much focus on attracting finance to new ecosystem service business models, there has been comparatively less focus on how to attract the range of paying customers on which those business models must ultimately rely.

This OLNP project is designed to help activate a local marketplace, by scoping customer and product opportunities and by proposing appropriate mechanisms, and an action plan to turn these opportunities into transactions and action on the ground.

Working groups

Our working groups are made up of experts in their fields who help to deliver our objectives.

The Nature Finance Group are working to leverage private finance and funding for environmental enhancement in Oxfordshire.

The Biodiversity Net Gain Group are working to make sure that new mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legislation brings proper benefits for nature.