New government-backed nature funding platform sees first corporate donations in major step for green finance

Lloyds Banking Group provides £250,000 funding to three nature restoration projects in England through the ‘Projects for Nature online’ platform

  • The Government publishes an update on progress under its Nature Markets Framework, setting out action taken and next steps for boosting private finance into ecosystem services in England
  • Announcement comes ahead of the launch of the British Standards Institution’s consultation on their first Nature Investment Standard, setting overarching principles for UK nature markets

Private sector funding for nature recovery projects took a major step forward today with Lloyds Banking Group becoming the first organisation to provide funding through the government-developed Projects for Nature platform.

The pioneering online platform has been developed as part of an effort to boost corporate donations from the private sector to create bigger, better, and more joined-up spaces for nature. 

Projects for Nature connects businesses and other donors with 25 nature recovery projects across England. Projects on the platform are screened by Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency, helping to ensure that funding aligns with national and local environmental priorities.  

The three projects receiving the £250,000 funding from Lloyds Banking Group through Projects for Nature are: 

  • Weald to Waves: A project to create a 100-mile nature recovery corridor, connecting over 20,000ha of habitats along 3 main rivers in Sussex to the coast; helping to boost biodiversity, reduce flooding, capture carbon and enhance the rural economy. The land-manager led project aims to offer a blueprint for nature recovery across built-up landscapes.
  • Resilient Glenderamackin: One of the largest of its kind, this catchment-based project in Cumbria aims to deliver nature-based solutions to reduce flood risk, restore nature and mitigate climate change. Led by the West Cumbria Rivers Trust, the project will be co-designed with over 40 farmers and land managers to ensure the natural flood management interventions – which include re-wiggling rivers, planting trees and restoring wetlands - work for their businesses, which stretch across 11,000 ha.   

  • Peak District - Nature Recovery at Dalehead: The National Trust are working with partners and tenant farmers in the High Peak to manage the land in their care for nature, climate, and people. The funding announced today will support the restoration of 2.6km of wetland on a site nestled between the iconic landmarks of Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. It will also enable expansion of the Peak Regenerative Farmers initiative, which includes events, workshops, training and peer-to-peer support to support sustainable businesses that produce quality food alongside nature-friendly farming practices.  

Green Finance Minister Lord Benyon, speaking at the Natural Capital Conference, said:

“Nature underpins the economy and is now a key part of the decisions being taken in boardrooms across the world.

“Private finance accounts for one sixth of the money going into nature at present, with public funds covering the rest. At today’s conference I set out how the Government wants to see a massive increase.

“Under the Green Finance Strategy and Nature Markets Framework this Government set out the vision for scaling up private investment into nature recovery, and today’s update sets out our aim to make nature markets bigger and better through robust market rules and infrastructure.”

Alan Law, Chief Officer for Strategy at Natural England said:

“All industries and sections of society think about the ways that they can contribute to protecting our natural environment if we are to put nature on the road to recovery. Successful collaboration is key and this is a great example. Work on frameworks and standards is essential if we are to join up the contributions from many initiatives into something that is coherent and lasting.

“Projects for Nature is a flagship pathway for the private sector to support meaningful nature restoration projects, offering a reliable platform to businesses looking for a way to do their bit for nature. At Natural England, we’re delighted to see today’s funding announcement from Lloyds Banking Group which will restore the natural world, create habitats for our precious species and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

Neil Davies, Director of Sustainability, Funding and Service Operations at the Environment Agency said:

“Today’s announcement shows that there is real appetite amongst businesses to support nature recovery, and shows how this can translate into action to benefit our natural environment.

“We at the Environment Agency are pleased to play a role in making this possible through the Projects for Nature platform and we will continue to work with Defra and Natural England to connect businesses who want to show leadership on nature protection with the projects which can help them have the greatest possible impact.”

 Andrew Walton, Chief Sustainability Officer at Lloyds Banking Group said: 

“The UK ranks among the most nature-depleted countries globally, highlighting the pressing need for collective action. As the UK’s largest financial services provider, we recognise the crucial role we must play in tackling the loss of nature to ensure a more resilient and thriving natural environment for the future.

“Becoming a founding partner of Projects for Nature will enable us to make a tangible difference to combating nature loss in communities across England, exploring innovative approaches to protect and restore our natural ecosystems, ultimately helping Britain prosper.”

Projects for Nature is part of a much broader government effort to stimulate private funding for nature.

The Nature Markets Framework, published one year ago set out the government’s approach and vision for scaling up private investment into nature recovery,  the ecosystem market, and sustainable farming. Today, an update on progress under the Framework sets out action taken over the past year and next steps in an effort to close the nature funding gap in England through accelerating the development of efficient, high integrity nature markets. 

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is also expected to publish the first iteration of the Overarching Principles Standard later this month. This is the first in a suite of nature investment standards produced by the BSI and will be vital to drive out greenwash and give clarity to all nature market participants – buyers, sellers, investors and intermediaries – enabling investment in a wide range of habitats and ecosystem services. 

This comes as part of the BSI Nature Investment Standards (BSI) Programme, through which Defra and the BSI have been working with businesses, public bodies, land management, environmental and financial stakeholders to inform the development of standards. 

The announcements set out today will help the government to reach its goal to grow annual private investment flows to nature to at least £500 million every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1 billion by 2030.

From: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Lord Benyon