Agriculture is under increasing pressure to maximise production, whilst reducing its environmental impact and eliminating dependence on public subsidy. Many farming businesses are operating at the limit of their profitability, often to the detriment of soil health, water quality and biodiversity. Farmers are in a unique position to restore and protect the natural environment, but there is no commercial basis for the provision of natural services from farmland.
Our report, in partnership with the National Trust, New markets for land and nature: How Natural Infrastructure Schemes could pay for a better environment, proposes a new payment mechanism, which establishes natural markets to bring new income streams into farming. It makes recommendations for how the government, alongside private endeavour, could accelerate the creation of these viable markets for ecosystem services. Our follow up report, Natural Infrastructure Schemes in practice: how to create new markets for ecosystem services from land, tests out the model and shows under which conditions it may work. Finally, Protecting our assets: using Natural Infrastructure Schemes to support sustainable agriculture, studies the potential to use the scheme to improve soil and water quality in the Anglian river basin.
See the highlights of our events in September 2016, at which our panel discussed the question 'Can natural markets benefit business and the environment?', and December 2017, which discussed how can we maintain food production while still ensuring a thriving natural environment.
Our work with the National Trust continues, as we work with partners to develop the concept and trial on the ground.