Purpose and focus of the group

Ecological restoration is needed at scale. But to date, it has been difficult to identify sources of funding that go beyond traditional government spending and philanthropic support. Riverwoods is a ‘Spotlight Project’ initiative within The £1 Billion Challenge that is being used to help develop this model in Scotland.

The Finance Group brings together a range of organisations and individuals to advise on the finance aspects of Riverwoods. This includes discussing approaches to finance, developing proposals and overseeing delivery of the finance mechanisms deployed in the project. Secretariat support is provided by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.


Members

The group is taking an open approach to membership, engaging both invited stakeholders and interested stakeholders, some of whom were previously involved in the £1 Billion Challenge. Please get in touch if you would like to join the group or find out more.

  • Ruchir Shah (Chair), Scottish Wildlife Trust
  • David Walker
  • Deryck Irving, Green Action Trust
  • Jaboury Ghazoul, Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes, University of Edinburgh
  • James Hepburne Scott, Forest Carbon
  • James Stuart, One Planet Consulting/Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
  • John Rowan
  • Kenneth Ferguson
  • Louise Bond, SEPA
  • Louise Wilson, Abundance Investment
  • Luke Comins, Tweed Forum
  • Neil Birnie, Conservation Capital
  • Nicola Melville, SEPA
  • Pat Snowdon, Scottish Forestry
  • Patrick Jean-Martel, NatureScot

Want to contribute?

If you have questions, suggestions or comments about the work of the Riverwoods Finance Group, please head over to our Ideas Wall where you can share your contribution and see the evolving conversation. Please get in touch if you would like to join the group or find out more.

You may wish to take a look at some of the questions that the Finance Group are currently considering below.

Current questions

  • What finance models are available including those where government and philanthropic sources can act as guarantors to de-risk investment?
  • What role is there in Riverwoods finance for servicing carbon markets and monetising ecosystem services?
  • How can we ensure that finance for Riverwoods functions well with existing grant schemes, such as the Forestry Grants Scheme, as well as with wider government policy on subsidies and levies?
  • How can we make the best use of digital advancements in data visualisation and remote data sensing to evidence value for money?

Click more below for a fuller briefing behind the themes underpinning these questions….


Theme 1:  Blended finance models

Social bridging finance – public sector investment

Social Bridging Finance (SBF) (source: Robertson Trust) is a new grant funding model designed to enable public services to innovate and move resources towards preventative services, by bringing together a working partnership of public sector, third sector and independent funders.

Through SBF, grant funding from independent funding sources is used to support the initial demonstration phase of an evidence-based service. This is underpinned by a contractual agreement between all partners that aims to ensure the public sector sustains those services which successfully meet agreed outcomes.

Other models, including government and philanthropic sources acting as guarantors to de-risk investment

There are a number of ways in which investments can be made less risky through the addition of support from government and/or philanthropic sources, including: 

  • Grants for proof of concept
  • Grants for hard-to-monetise elements of blended finance packages
  • Grants for capacity building
  • Interest free loans / early investment
  • Risk free loans to stimulate innovation (i.e. only pay back if successful)
  • Public or philanthropic actors acting as guarantors (which will cost them nothing if the project succeeds)

Theme 2: Markets and monetisation

Voluntary carbon markets

The woodland carbon market has changed a lot in the last year. The demand side is growing rapidly already. It’s the supply side that needs more focus. Riverwoods and collaboration is key: engagement with landowners and farmers is crucial for scale. 

Monetisation of other ecosystem services

Benefits beyond carbon sequestration include water quality improvements, water temperature regulation, reduction of soil erosion, natural flood risk management, shelter for livestock, recreation, health and wellbeing, and of course benefits to biodiversity (including for salmon fisheries). We need to start identifying the beneficiaries and assigning monetary values to these benefits.


Theme 3: Wider policy coherence

Subsidies and levies

Other sources of potential funding exist for Riverwoods, most notably the future of post-CAP land management payments, biodiversity net gain (targeting developers) and possibly the infrastructure levy (which if activated would give powers to local authorities to impose a levy on developers and use the levy to pay for natural infrastructure). 

Existing woodland grants

Riparian planting doesn’t score well with value for money – what do we collectively need to do / advocate for to address this?


Cross-cutting themes

Data

Some interesting possibilities exist, including the use of satellite imagery – selling the benefits by visualising the context for farmers. Visualizing actual measurements using remote data. How do we grade the data quality? – indicators used as proxies vs real data sources.

Share your thoughts and ideas with others on Riverwoods.