In Scotland, two funding schemes are available for conservation and natural capital projects that provide multiple options for those with a vision for their land.

The publicly financed Nature Restoration Fund currently supports more than 65 projects across Scotland. It focuses on biodiversity projects and has received a large number of applications. Habitat connection, water, and habitat restoration are key areas of focus for the NRF, which provides grants of between £25,000 and £250,000 for “Helping Nature” and over £250,000 for larger projects in the “Transforming Nature” category.

There are a number of opportunities to apply through an expression of interest form though note that all spending must be completed by March 2026. The next application deadline for the competitive funding is 25 April 2024.

An alternative to the more traditional NRF route for landowners, and communities looking to enhance natural capital and biodiversity is FIRNS (The Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland).

Galbraith has been working on a number of projects making use of the FIRNS funding. There is a wide breath of projects from community wealth building and engagement to developing biodiversity farms and ‘passion project’ for individual landowners and local councils. A common theme of the projects is a focus on generating value from natural capital and investing in communities.

The wide scope of NRF and FIRNS enables landowners to explore various structured finance options to support investment in diverse nature projects. This is in contrast and addition to the long-running Forestry Grant Scheme, Peatland Action for Peatland Restoration and Agri-Environment Climate Scheme which provide support for very particular land use treatments.

Cuts of more than £30 million in 2024-25 to funding of the Forestry Grant Scheme announced in January have caused concern. However, the retained funding budget remains at £45.4 million, which reflects spending in recent years when Scotland has struggled to meet forestry planting targets.

Landowners looking to invest therefore have a wide range of options, as funding remains available and opportunities plentiful.

Galbraith can offer advice and development services for landowners, community groups, farm clusters and public bodies with a vision or curiosity in making use of government funding.

  • Natural Capital: Galbraith’s expert advisers guide our clients in realising value in all land uses – by assessing and measuring natural assets, furthering opportunities in biodiversity net gain, and ensuring stakeholders are rewarded fully for their investment in and contribution to delivering ecosystem services and net-zero outcomes.