(Image: Dalnoid Cottages and Treehouses. On the market here)


For three years, we have written about farming in a changing climate and under stress from weather events, volatile markets, increased costs and reducing subsidies. Farmers have faced a tough choice: continue as before in a tried-and-tested way which has served them well in the past, or act in a way more likely to meet these challenges. Polling by Farmers Weekly suggests many farmers are worried about going about their business post-Basic Payment Scheme, but have not yet worked out what to do.

First movers have the advantage; their businesses are already on the way to improvement when others are yet to start. But boldness comes at a cost. Innovation and adaptation take time and money, and you need to be able to withstand those costs before the benefits come through.

But as we’ll write in coming days, there is money available to support these changes. Diversified businesses are better placed to make changes than single-stream enterprises. One of those diversifications is into environmental credits: in carbon, biodiversity, nutrient neutrality and natural flood management.

The UK Big Nature Impact Fund aims to stimulate institutional investment at scale in high-quality nature restoration projects. It promotes ‘nature markets principles’ to help combat corporate ‘greenwashing’, that is, inventing or exaggerating positive environmental outcomes. Farmers may follow these principles using these steps:

1. Act on the basis of science. Secure baseline information by conducting carbon and biodiversity audits;

2. Be transparent. Make the audits available to outside influences; open the farm gate; by so doing, you will learn by engaging with others;

3. Make sure that your credit claims are verifiable. Be in a position to measure improvements in three years’ time;

4. Make the improvements in perpetuity. It is not easy to make such a commitment, but one of farmers’ strengths is that they believe in living as if they will die tomorrow, and farming as if they will live for ever; and

5. Benefit the local community. Open the farm gate, and engage with the public. It will demonstrate the wider benefits of a journey to Net Zero 2050.
Farmers may find it difficult to work out what to do today but by starting with these steps, they will create opportunities to take part in the new nature markets in future.

• Natural Capital: The expert advisers at Galbraith 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.