Ecosystem Service Market Exploration

Scoping the local market for selling nature-based ecosystem services in Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire.

Bluebells carpeting woodland


This 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.

What we're doing

Our partners the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) led on a feasibility study across the Bernwood, Otmoor and Ray landscape to assess potential for stimulating nature's recovery in the area. You can read their feasibility study here. One proposal to come out of this work has identified opportunities on the supply side in terms of potential land-management interventions for nature recovery projects, and groups of farmers who are interested in implementing nature-friendly land management practices on their land. This is a great start, and we are now working to gain clarity on:

(1) customers who would be willing to pay for nature-based services
(2) quite 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 have the potential to be 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. And 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 model must ultimately rely.

Working across borders, with the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (LNP) we will:

(a) conduct a market opportunity analysis,
(b) develop commercial arrangements, including analysis and advice on local capacity and infrastructure required to turn opportunities into transactions
(c) develop a step-wise action plan for 'setting up shop' and building a pipeline of transactions.