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Getting ready to help universities invest in our environment!

October 7, 2022

As part of our 3 year Farming for Carbon and Nature (FCN) programme, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, we have tasked ourselves with developing a model to enable UK universities to invest in UK farms to help reach their Net Zero targets.

Our goal is to set up a scheme to enable universities to pay farmers, who farm land owned by UK universities and colleges, to manage that farmland in sustainable ways to both sequester atmospheric carbon in the soil and to increase biodiversity. This will help universities to address scope 3 emissions as part of reaching Net Zero by 2030 and support reversal of native species declines in the UK Countryside.

The FCN project team have been busy developing methodology for measuring soil carbon and farmland biodiversity since the project launch in 2021. This is a vital component of the model: we need to be able to measure the carbon being sequestered on farms and the changes in biodiversity to check that universities are getting the outcomes they pay for.

Now that we have pinned down the measurement science, we have some big questions to answer about how to create the link between universities and farms in the form of a financial investment model and product:

  • How do we clearly define a farm-product that offers quantified carbon storage and the protection or increase of farmland biodiversity?
  • How can we create a verification process for those farm-products that is credible and scalable?
  • How can we deliver the scheme as a viable and self-sustaining (not-for-profit) business after the end of the pilot project?


Those are some big questions! So we are very grateful to the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), who have granted us £86500 of funding to help draw in experts from the natural capital and carbon investment world to help inform us and our farmers and universities as we seek the best answer to these questions. We are excited to be working with Accelar Limited (consultants working on green and clean investment for UK investors)and AGS Carbon Advisory (working internationally on carbon offsetting schemes). We will also be getting some help with the legal structure of the farm-product and business from Blandy & Blandy Solicitors.

The NEIRF project started in September 2022 and is being led by Kate Winters from SOS-UK's Food and Farming Team, with help from the Farming for Carbon and Nature advisory and working groups, which include participating farmers and universities.

Want to know more?

If you would like to get involved with our NEIRF project, or would like more details, please email Kate at kate.winters@sos-uk.org.


To join our Farming for Carbon & Nature mailing list please email our Food & Farming team at foodandfarming@sos-uk.org.


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