CASE STUDY NATURAL ENGLAND
Towards a Purple Horizon – nature recovery in Birmingham
3Keel has been supporting Natural England in the development of a brand new, privately funded nature recovery project – “Purple Horizons”.
AREA LANDSCAPE INNOVATION
LEAD RUSSELL ASHFIELD
CLIENT NATURAL ENGLAND
xtending across 10,000 ha on the fringes of the West Midlands conurbation, Purple Horizons is restoring and connecting fragmented nationally and internationally important heathlands to create a mosaic of heathland-wetland-woodland-grassland. The area will be vital for the recovery and long-term resilience of the area’s reptiles, birds and pollinators, and it will help connect Sutton Park National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC), together with local Wildlife Trust nature reserves.
With similar projects across the country, Natural England has a vision to create a thriving “Nature Recovery Network” which is resilient to climate change, facilitated by improving biodiversity, geodiversity and landscape value, through land use change and restoration of ecosystems.
Natural England commissioned 3Keel to undertake a Green Finance analysis of the project area for Purple Horizons. Using 3Keel’s well-established Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENs) approach, our work aimed to provide the basis for the development of a green trading platform in the area.
We worked with businesses in the area to understand their dependencies on the landscape, allowing us to determine what types of natural capital they might be interested in investing in. The work also involved interviewing landowners in the area to understand their experience of delivering environmental outcomes, their willingness to provide nature-based solutions, and identify opportunities and blockers to delivery.
Our report highlights the significant overlap between the interests of businesses and landowners in the area, highlighting some significant opportunities for Purple Horizons. The report concludes with a series of recommendations and next steps that Natural England will use to in the development of this exciting project.
“Working with 3Keel has helped us better understand how we can use new tools to finance Nature Recovery, by better understanding what businesses are interested in buying and why, what landowners are interested in supplying, plus what we as a partnership need to do to develop fundable projects, said Chloe Hardman Senior Adviser, Purple Horizons Nature Recovery Project, Natural England.
“We hope to build on this initial work with further development work. We are aiming for a fully functional trading platform that will bring in new private sector funding for nature recovery to enable delivery at a larger scale than through public sector funding alone. This will bring about multiple benefits to help nature and people thrive. 3Keel were very professional with their approach and a pleasure to work with.”
Launching five landmark nature recovery projects in England
Purple Horizons is one of five landscape-scale nature recovery projects launched by Defra and Natural England across the country to help counter three of the biggest challenges we face: biodiversity loss, climate change and public health. Together, they will help deliver the national Nature Recovery Network (NRN).
Defra and Natural England are investing £2.4 million to take forward the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP), enacted by the Environment Act 2021 and covers an estimated 99,000 ha.
The five Nature Recovery Projects were announced in Walsall at the site of our research with Natural England.
Photo by Kieren Ridley from Pexels