Triodos Bank funds first nature reserve in rare commercial loan deal

Published 09:18 on January 25, 2023  /  Last updated at 09:18 on January 25, 2023  /  Biodiversity  /  No Comments

The UK branch of Dutch-headquartered Triodos has loaned £3.75 million to a rewilding charity in the UK for its first of many planned landholding acquisitions meant for nature reserves across the country.

The UK branch of Dutch-headquartered Triodos has loaned £3.75 million to a rewilding charity in the UK for its first of many planned landholding acquisitions meant for nature reserves across the country.

The loan is Triodos’ first for a rewilding project and thought to be the first commercial loan of its kind in the UK, the company said in a press release.

“As a sustainable bank, we have closely supported the organic, biodynamic, and permaculture movements for decades. Now to further restore biodiversity and protect nature in the UK – and to address the climate and ecological emergencies – we must find further ways of financing nature preservation and restoration,” said Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK.

“As our first direct loan to a nature restoration project, we are excited to see how the project progresses and hope to be able to support similar initiatives nationwide that address climate change, adapt to its effects, and promote biodiversity.”

The loan went to charity Heal, founded in 2020, which used the funds towards acquiring land for its first rewilding project in Somerset.

Heal intends to use the Somerset project as a blueprint and go on to establish a major nature recovery site in each of England’s 48 counties by 2050, covering nearly 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares), the press release said.

At the Somerset site, Heal will use rare breed cattle, pigs, and ponies as “ecosystem engineers” to help reestablish natural processes on the land, contributing to the natural regeneration of trees, improved soil health, and other plant growth, which again will lead to greater capture of carbon.

The charity expects to see an increase in insect numbers, growth of plants including saplings, and a greater abundancy and diversity of species, it said.

“Nature will only recover if it has more space to thrive and we join a growing number of landowners across the UK who are making that happen. The process of rewilding has already begun and though it will take many years for nature to recover, we expect to see positive changes immediately, first small and then more visible within a couple of years,” said Jan Stannard, co-founder and chair of trustees at Heal Rewilding.

Direct Line Group also contributed a loan to the project, which also benefited from public land sponsorship, corporate donations, and natural capital investments.

Rewilding is gaining popularity in the UK, and earlier this month conservation group Highlands Rewilding raised over £500,000 through crowdfunding in just a month for its activities to combat climate change and biodiversity loss in the Scottish Highlands.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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