Landmark conservation commercial debt package announced in Scotland

Blackburn and Hartsgarth

WITH THE backing of a £20.55m loan facility from Triodos Bank UK, Oxygen Conservation has acquired 23,000 acres in Scotland – consisting of 11,390 acres of Langholm Moor, known as Blackburn and Hartsgarth, and an 11,610-acre estate at Invergeldie, near Comrie in Perthshire – marking what is believed to be the largest conservation-focused commercial debt package in the UK to date.

Oxygen Conservation prioritises working with local communities and forming strategic partnerships to ensure its plans meet the needs of the environment and the people who depend on it. 

Rich Stockdale, Managing Director of Oxygen Conservation, said: 

“Triodos is changing what it means to be a bank. That’s why, when we were looking for someone to partner with to put together a significant conservation-based debt package, there was only one answer. We are so proud to stand side by side with them today. It’s only by creating these types of funding packages and frameworks with respected financial institutions that people can have the confidence to allow private finance to flow into natural capital at scale – thereby funding the protection of the natural world. Thank you to everyone at Triodos for their passion, vision and commitment to making this possible. We will now do everything we can to only deliver positive environmental and social impact at our incredible sites.”  

Founded in June 2021 with the specific aim of tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis, Oxygen Conservation works to protect and improve natural assets, generating a positive economic return as a result of its work, not as its purpose. It seeks to achieve this through the delivery of a diverse range of projects, including species reintroduction, landscape connectivity, regenerative agriculture, woodland creation, renewable energy generation, sustainable housing, and eco-tourism and carbon sequestration through woodland and peatland restoration.

By taking a holistic approach, Oxygen Conservation ensures that its efforts not only benefit the environment, but also contribute to local communities’ social and economic wellbeing.

Bevis Watts, Chief Executive of Triodos Bank UK, added: “Urgent restoration of the natural environment is essential to both tackling and being resilient to climate change, and the scale of investment needed is significant. We need to see ourselves as part of natural systems and create a new economy that is connected to the natural environment on which it depends.

“We have worked for over five years to find models for investing in nature restoration that deliver the greatest public good. Oxygen Conservation is pioneering a brand-new approach to protecting and restoring nature and its commitment to deliver positive environmental and social impact, while generating a sustainable financial return, very much aligns with our own values as a bank. This loan, which adds to our pioneering portfolio of nature-based investment projects, is fully committed for 25 years, and is understood to be the largest debt transaction on nature-based finance in the UK. We’re extremely proud to be working together on this groundbreaking finance structure and hope to see similar projects around the UK.”

Invergeldie is an iconic Scottish Highlands estate in a truly spectacular setting. Currently home to a former grouse moor and small hill farming operation, Oxygen Conservation will be working with the on-site team, local businesses and the community over the coming 18 months to create a conservation-focused masterplan for the site to deliver genuine landscape-level restoration of natural processes. During its custodianship, Oxygen Conservation intends to restore significant areas of peatland and plant large areas of native broadleaf woodland, whilst transitioning the farm to an organic, regenerative system that complements and enhances the natural environment.

Blackburn & Hartsgarth presents Oxygen Conservation with the opportunity to create one of the most significant conversation projects in the UK by building upon the excellent environmental work already delivered by the previous owner, Buccleuch, on site and complementing the neighbouring 10,500 acres of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.

The sites at Invergeldie and Blackburn & Hartsgarth are the latest additions to Oxygen Conservation’s growing portfolio of owned and managed conservation sites. This also includes the Leighon Estate in Dartmoor, Wood Advent Farm in Exmoor, Esgair Arth, near Aberaeron in Wales, Swineley in the Yorkshire Dales, and a stretch of the Firth of Tay, near Dundee.

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