The top ten business opportunities to protect and value nature’s services have been identified. With ties for first and ninth places, there are actually 12 of them. Most of them have implications and opportunities for you if you manage land.
Equal first place went to Biodiversity Offsetting and Conservation Banking, tied with the development of a Peatland Carbon Code. Biodiversity offsetting allows a developer to offset environmental impacts by paying for the management of natural assets elsewhere. This has been estimated as a market of £50 to £300 million a year from housing alone, and developers have said they are keen to see it develop with the costs deducted from current prices paid for development land (adding to the political attraction of such a scheme). The business opportunities arise not only from the management of natural assets with this funding, but also from brokerage, certification and registration schemes.
A Peatland Carbon Code would in some ways be a very particular example of biodiversity offsetting, with payments made to peatland managers for its restoration and care based on the storage of carbon – see my last post on the role of peat in carbon capture and storage for a little more background on this.
Third place went to the production of woodfuel and fourth to the development of a UK ecosystem services knowledge economy.
Fifth place is particularly important to rural land managers: the development of Layered PES (what? Layered Payments for Ecosystem Services (What? Read on ….)). An example might be the management of upland peat in a water catchment or flood risk area. The water company wants to gather water in as clean a condition as possible – that’s one layer of PES. Industry five counties away wants to offset its carbon output – that’s another layer of PES. A consortium of insurance companies or developers wants to invest in flood protection – yet another layer of PES. This of course calls into play brokerage, registration, certification as well as appropriate management of the asset itself.
Carbon sequestration as an allowable solution to the challenge of zero carbon housing is in sixth place – back to peat again, plus tree growing and very important throughout the property sector from rural land management to planning and building new housing.
Sustainability Certification and Sustainable Tourism sit in seventh and eighth places respectively.
Ninth equal is taken by the opportunities to develop water re-use technology – indirectly important to the construction industry, and the development of the UK as a global centre of excellence for ESS (Ecosystem Services) Certification.
The eleventh place is taken by the opportunity for the insurance industry to reduce the risk of large claims due to natural catastrophe through the development of green infrastructure – absorbent areas of open country to slow and absorb flood runoff for example. Peat again!
Final position twelve goes to the development of environmental bonds – investment opportunities backed by the government to make finance available to eco-entrepreneurs to raise money on competitive terms. So that’s where some of the money is going to come from.
Many more opportunities are outlined in the full reports, which can be seen here
Despite their unappealing language it is very clear that these developments have enormous implications – many of them excellent opportunities – for land managers, owners and occupiers in the next few years. It’s time to become an eco-entrepreneur and learn a new lexicon.