Third sector partners join forces to help Scottish environment projects attract investment

The River Tweed (Photo: NatureScot)

A NEW programme from responsible finance provider Social Investment Scotland (SIS) will help Scottish nature restoration projects to attract nature finance from private investment, boosting the natural ecosystem and benefitting communities across the country.

Funded by the Scottish Government, SIS has joined forces with NatureScot and The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver the programme, which aims to unlock opportunities for nature-based projects involved in the Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) scheme as well as Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (IRNS) and Riverwoods.

This cohort of projects will gain access to a series of expert-led events and workshops, one-to-one coaching, and matchmaking opportunities where SIS will introduce investment-ready projects to potential investors and buyers. SIS will also facilitate peer to peer learning between projects.

Led by SIS associate and social enterprise consultant, Naomi Johnson, the sessions will cover key topics such as aligning social and commercial value, impact investing, and changing cultures. Participants will also be provided with a range of online resources including SIS’s Investment Readiness Tool, helping them to attract additional finance to support their environmental and community ambitions.

The current cohort is made up of around 40 nature projects from across Scotland, all working to address various environmental concerns including: marine and coastal biodiversity, wildlife protection, peatland restoration and forestry. More projects will join in April.

Participants include the Tweed Forum which aims to develop natural flood management techniques to reduce flood risk in the Eddleston Water catchment by 10%; Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust which is working to protect and restore Scotland’s Atlantic rainforest; and the North Highland Initiative which plans to improve the flow of finance for peatland restoration.  

Kieran Daly, head of market building at SIS, said: “We’re excited to be teaming up with NatureScot and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help grow nature finance in Scotland. Drawing upon more than 20 years’ experience helping charities and social enterprises increase their impact through investment, SIS has designed a programme which offers practical support and advice to help these nature-based projects attract more investment. Ultimately, this will in turn enable the projects to attract the funding they need to increase their impact – boosting Scotland’s biodiversity and enhancing natural capital for the future. In doing so, we can also hopefully attract more nature-based investment into Scotland.”

John Uttley, principal adviser – nature finance at NatureScot, said: “This dynamic new partnership with Social Investment Scotland will help many creative and ambitious projects to access new sources of finance for their work to protect and restore nature. At this time of growing urgency about our changing climate, nature plays an absolutely critical role. We must work together and increase our efforts, and this joint venture will provide a big helping hand to many projects working hard to stop biodiversity loss and tackle climate change.”

Caroline Clark, The National Lottery Heritage Fund director for Scotland, said: “FIRNS is an important opportunity to explore new ideas on how we attract vital private investment to support the restoration of nature in Scotland, while supporting meaningful community benefit. From the outset a key component of FIRNS has the sharing of knowledge and experience across funded projects to support the growth of a successful green finance economy in Scotland.

“We welcome the significant additional expertise that Social Investment Scotland bring to the FIRNS programme. There is a growing momentum behind the ideas that drive FIRNS and we are confident that with SIS joining the team we will see more successful investment models being developed to benefit nature and communities throughout Scotland.”

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