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Farmers can find out how to generate income from carbon credits thanks to a new online toolkit launched by the Green Finance Institute (GFI).... How to generate farm income from carbon credits and nature

Farmers can find out how to generate income from carbon credits thanks to a new online toolkit launched by the Green Finance Institute (GFI).

The Defra-supported free toolkit sets out to help farmers understand nature markets – including biodiversity net gain and nutrient neutrality as well as carbon credits – and how they offer an opportunity for farmers to diversify revenue streams.

The goal is to help farmers attract private sector finance to pay for improvements to the natural environment as well as support them with their eligibility for the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).

‘Huge opportunity’

With farms accounting for 70% of the land in the UK, the GFI described nature markets as a huge opportunity for farmers to generate revenue from environmental improvements. Some 11% of UK net greenhouse gas emissions were from agriculture, it added.

One third round NEIRF funding was available exclusively to farmers – and farmers were the custodians of the countryside, managing 70% of land and are on the frontline of delivering environmental benefits.

Green finance minister Lord Benyon (right) said: “We are committed to targeting at least £500 million of private investment for nature recovery in England each year by 2027, rising to at least £1 billion each year by 2030, and farmers will be key in delivering this.

“This toolkit will be a valuable resource to give farmers the information they need to develop their understanding of nature markets, providing them new opportunities to be paid for environmental outcomes and contributing to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector.”

‘Invaluable resource’

NEIRF programme manager Andy Slaney said trying to generate nature markets could feel daunting. “We want nature markets to help the farming community transition to a sustainable state, this toolkit will help anyone embarking on that journey.

“This pioneering GFI Farming Toolkit is an invaluable resource for the farming community when considering how to enhance nature and improve the climate resilience of their businesses while seeking to maintain a suitable income.”

Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn said it was vital that farmers were fairly rewarded for their work in delivering environmental benefits and the management of natural capital on their land.

“In most cases, food markets and other markets for agricultural produce do not routinely factor in the environmental management costs involved. To date, farmers have been rewarded, to some extent through public funding but it is now good to see private markets being developed.”

For full details, visit tinyurl.com/greenfarmtoolkit

Help to navigate ‘complex’ developing market

Farming organisation have welcomed the Green Finance Institute toolkit launch, saying it will help navigate what can be a complex developing market.

Sue Pritchard, chief executive of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, said: “Our research shows that farmers want he government to put the guardrails in place for a well-regulated, sophisticated and fair market in which they can operate with confidence.”

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, said the voluntary carbon market currently available to farmers was still developing, requiring consistent and comparable standards, and offering lower financial gains than the compulsory market.

“As an evidence-based organisation, [we] understand the need for independently verified evidence and data to enable farmers to make informed decisions. The Farming Toolkit offers impartial and comprehensive information on nature markets.”

Farmer and Oxbury Bank co-founder Tim Coates said: “All farmers must be supported and empowered to enter nature markets in order to receive the just rewards for their land stewardship and the provision of ecosystem services on which we all depend.”

The toolkit would enable widespread adoption of nature-based solutions and income in farming businesses across the country alongside the traditional markets of food, fibre and timber – whether based on carbon, biodiversity, nutrient quality or natural flood management.