Fisheries Management Scotland wants to attract “nature finance” in support of FMS members delivering management actions for catchment scale river restoration action, to improve the medium to long term sustainability of Scotland’s rivers. Our work has been helpfully facilitated by The Rivers Trust and generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Missing Salmon Alliance and The Golden Bottle Trust.

Significant investment is needed to protect and restore our precious river catchments and change how land and water is managed. Traditional funding from public, government and philanthropic sources falls far short of the scale of support needed to address the biodiversity and climate crises.  Emergent nature finance secured from corporate ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) commitments and institutional investors seeking social and environmental “impact” from their investments is gaining ground to fill this gap. We want to access these markets to bring in finance at scale for the delivery of actions that will improve the ecological status of Scotland’s rivers and ensure their long-term viability. 

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Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. However, investment structures for nature are poorly developed and there is a wide gulf between the needs of investors and the supply of investable nature projects. The governance, regulatory and policy frameworks required to define the investment readiness environment are still early in development. Therefore, we anticipate that blended finance (public and private), philanthropic finance, ESG and carbon-driven markets (woodland and peatland) will predominate meantime.   

A key aim of ours is to establish a river catchment restoration funding framework that will enable our members to deliver locally tailored solutions to sustain healthy ecologically functioning river systems. We want to develop a legal and financial framework within which trusted transactions are made and ensure that such investment is made as part of a values-led, high-integrity market in line with “The Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital” that sets out the Scottish Government’s ambitions for responsible private investment in nature. We are already working on a FIRNS (Facility for Investment Ready nature Scotland) project supported by NatureScot and the National Lottery Heritage Fund with partners; Marine Directorate of the Scottish Government, Crown Estate Scotland, NatureScot and the Scottish Marine Environment Enhancement Fund to develop a Scottish source to sea, nature finance model 

We support our members to access nature finance opportunities as they arise, and it is encouraging to see successes in this area too. The Spey Catchment Initiative is working to develop a Landscape Enterprise Network (LENs), with the close involvement of the whisky industry. A LENs is a trading system for organising the buying and selling of nature-based solutions – land management measures that deliver ecosystem functions, such as water quality management, flood risk management, resilient supply of crops, carbon, or biodiversity outcomes. LENs allow businesses to de-risk operations that depend on ecosystem functions provided within a catchment, by paying land and water managers in the catchment to safeguard these functions. Also the Forth Rivers Trust has also secured a FIRNS award to develop a LENs for the Leven catchment in Fife, and Galloway Fisheries Trust has gained FIRNS funding to deliver a suite of habitat restoration projects across the Annan catchment.