The UK government-backed £30m fund aims to bring back Britain’s lost rainforests, which once covered large parts of its western coastline and inspired a classic crime novel.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has appointed US investment manager Federated Hermes and UK-based environmental impact investment advisor Finance Earth as preferred fund managers to launch its Big Nature Impact Fund.
Defra said it will play “a supporting role in the fund by providing seed investment and an active role in setting the fund’s mandate and governance through a Limited Partnership Agreement with the fund managers and other investors”.
The Big Nature Impact Fund is a proposed public-private blended finance vehicle with up to £30m (€34.4m) in public investment.
Rebecca Pow, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told Parliament in January the fund aims to “develop environmental markets by investing in projects capable of generating revenue from ecosystem services”. The new impact fund will focus on carbon-rich biodiverse habitats, primarily native woodlands and restored peatlands and could also support projects capable of expanding England’s temperate rainforests, Pow said.
The creation of the Big Nature Impact Fund forms part of a wider effort by the government to halt the decline in nature by 2030. Last year, the UK Treasury Department said it was aiming to raise at least £500m in private finance to support nature’s recovery in England every year by 2027, rising to more than £1bn by 2030.
Although about one-fifth of the UK has a climate that’s suitable for the creation of temperate rainforest, only around 1% of the British Isles is still home to these forests, according to press reports. That’s in large part due to overgrazing, forestry practices and mining.
One of the country’s best known areas of rainforest is Wistman’s Wood in the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England. Its oak woodlands, grown in mild, damp conditions on the verge of Britain’s Atlantic coast, are home to rare lichens and mosses, and once served as the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1901 Sherlock Holmes novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.
Rainforests may also have existed in other areas of the UK’s western coastline, including in the Lake District, parts of Wales, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor.