The Scottish Government announced FIRNS in February 2023 as a way to encourage investment in nature. NatureScot is offering grants of up to £120,000 through FIRNS. Applicants are also encouraged to apply for co-funding through project grants of up to £120,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. With a focus on the development of investment-ready projects, project applications are also credited for community wealth building, shared benefits and natural capital markets at a high level.
The Scottish Government is encouraging private finance to support public good, a positive step in providing a model for emerging carbon models. Investment also offers benefits for private investors to enhance their ESG (environmental, social and governance) stories and account positively for their impacts; and for buyers of ecosystem service improvements such as biodiversity credits or reduced flood risk to de-risk their operations.
The scheme provides guidance from NatureScot on ways to develop a successful project with workshops offered to assist with applications, an ‘investment readiness’ toolkit, guidance on community engagement and financial and legal guidance.
This assists applicants with an idea to consider what are often the more complex portions of a project. There are several keys factors that can boost the success of nature-based projects that have traditionally involved barriers – legal ownership of an ecosystem service, the process of the accreditation and verification of benefits offered (which in many cases are intangible or difficult to measure) and enacting a sustainable governance structure.
FIRNS provides a valuable resource for nature-based projects to develop their viability and invest-ability, while delivering scientifically credible outcomes and products. It is an important first step in this very innovative, developing marketplace. Although co-funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, FIRNS is a Government-backed initiative.
We hope the market, though still in its infancy, will develop into an infrastructure that can function without the need for public funding.
- The Natural Capital Team at Galbraith are well versed in this developing market and able to develop investable projects, work with stakeholders and submit funding applications, to obtain maximum benefit from your desired landscape change.