Regeneration 2017-12-04T09:46:21+00:00

Regeneration

Bringing ESG to life

So much of our natural world is degraded – loss of forests and wetlands, removal of coastal mangroves and damming and pollution of rivers. As we lose species we reduce the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to changing conditions or shocks to the system and we know that climate change will inevitably have an impact on whole ecosystems.

This combination of species loss and climate change is what makes regenerating our natural world so important.

Benefits of regeneration

Regeneration has multiple benefits. It often builds carbon stores, whether through tree planting or restoration of wetlands, it restores low grade land, providing habitat for species and it often protects watersheds. In addition, regeneration projects need people to plan, undertake and care for them, involving local communities and often incorporating some form of sustainable development such as agroforestry (small scale sustainable forest crops).

How do we support regeneration?

Our Regeneration portfolio is designed to find those organisations able to repair heavily degraded forests, corals, mangroves and wetlands, bringing life back to regions where biodiversity has been lost. Our aim is to ensure that future generations will be able to see an abundance of wildlife in the wild.

This funding approach is particularly aimed at businesses, who understand the importance of the ‘E’ in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) requirements for business management. This ESG framework is intended to produce a more sustainable economy, recognising “that the generation of long-term sustainable returns is dependent on stable, well-functioning and well-governed social, environmental and economic systems” (United Nations Principle of Responsible Investing).

Long-term thinking

Environmental factors (E) are still at the periphery of business concerns. Many businesses are only beginning to think about the reality of their full environmental impact and how they can go about reducing it.

Taking a holistic view requires caring about our natural world over the long term and thinking deeply about what we want to achieve when we consider reducing environmental impact. Can we achieve more meaningful results by funding regeneration of our natural world than by using single dimension solutions such as carbon off-setting.

Regeneration instead of carbon off-setting

Many individuals and companies use ‘carbon off-setting’ schemes as a way to reduce their environmental footprint.  At first glance, carbon off-setting seems to be an intelligent and business-friendly way to tackle environmental concerns, however there is an inherent paradox, as often the cheaper the credit, the worse the quality of the scheme. But cheap schemes also allow companies to ‘off-set’, rather than to address their footprint.

We looked at off-setting schemes focussed on reforestation and found five key shortcomings:

  • Carbon credit schemes that do not require companies to reduce their emissions before granting credits. Most assume that emissions in one place can be mitigated, simply by planting trees elsewhere.
  • Many carbon credit projects are not rigorously assessed and have long supply chains, leaving room for error and misrepresentation.
  • Many carbon credit schemes assume that trees planted are left in the ground until their death. In fact most good local restoration schemes involve a cyclical process of planting and sustainably harvesting some trees for local use, whilst also planting new trees. This can skew data on carbon sequestration.
  • Unlike forest protection and restoration initiatives, carbon credit schemes do not necessarily protect diverse species and Earth’s ecological functioning, including watershed protection.
  • Some carbon credit schemes effectively ‘grab’ land from the communities living on it and prevent them from being involved in tree planting. This has knock-on effects for local communities and the environment.

It makes sense to move away from this single dimension off-setting and to focus on positively contributing to the health of the environment. Initiatives that regenerate carbon storing entities – forests, peatlands, mangroves and wetlands not only deliver on carbon sequestration but also create restored habitat benefitting general biodiversity and generally restore ecological functioning. They also rely on the participation of local people, which is essential for long term conservation.

Help us regenerate degraded ecosystems 

If you are interested in an alternative to carbon offsetting for your business and want to make a real difference for local communities and wildlife around the world, contact us to find out more.