The Green Finance Institute acts as advisor and third-party assessor to the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), supporting Defra and the Environment Agency.

The Fund of up to £10 million provides grants up to £100,000 to environmental groups, local authorities, businesses and other organisations to help them develop nature projects in England to a point where they can attract private investment. It was designed by Defra and the Environment Agency, working with Her Majesty’s Treasury, Natural England and Access – Foundation for Social Investment.

The GFI also partners with Ecosystems Knowledge Network and funder, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, to support the NEIRF’s Community of Practice.

Round 2 closed on the 3 Feb and applications are currently being assessed. Please see events page for NEIRF-related events and recordings of past events.

Examples of the 29 applicants awarded grants in Round 1 include:

  • United Utilities’ development of an environmental impact bond model and an investment case to deliver up to ten sustainable drainage systems to industrial estates and other nature based solutions;
  • Ecotricity’s establishment of a carbon bank – identifying and modelling woodland creation in a number of company sites, which will result in the creation and selling of woodland carbon a new and bespoke web platform to over 200,000 customers;
  • Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire, working to develop a new business model for multi-functional forestry to realise wider benefits from carbon sequestration, biodiversity credits, recreation, and water quality;
  • RSPB’s development of an aggregation vehicle which would finance habitat creation in a pipeline of projects. It will seek to model revenues through biodiversity and carbon credits at significant scale, and it will model this approach in up to six pioneer sites;
  • Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s scheme to raise investment to restore peatland through the Greater Manchester Environment Fund by modelling revenues from the sale of carbon and biodiversity credits through woodland creation and increasing biodiversity; and
  • Surrey Wildlife Trust’s scheme to establish a natural capital investment company to model biodiversity net gain at scale in support of development growth in the southern England.
The Green Finance Institute is working with NEIRF grantees and other projects to develop a Project Toolkit based on the following Steps to Investment Readiness