The natural capital sector is growing fast and there are many opportunities for a varied career.

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By Jon Dearsley, Joint Head of Natural Capital

View out over verdant British countryside

What is natural capital?

Natural Capital is the stock of the world all around us – earth, air and water and all the components that are linked with them: trees, minerals and peat bogs, to name but a few. As environmental challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution intensify, protecting natural capital is even more critical for the long term benefit of rural and urban populations.

The provision of ecosystem services is beginning to unlock considerable opportunities for a whole host of rural-based businesses and communities. The range of opportunities is and will continue to develop as the market for ecosystem services becomes more established.

So how can businesses capitalise on their assets? While not exhaustive some of the options are listed below:

Ecotourism and Recreation: Conservation areas with unique natural features can be promoted as ecotourism destinations, generating revenue to reinvest in conservation projects while raising awareness with visitors bout the importance of protecting natural capital.

Wind turbines scattered through the countryside seen from above through the clouds

Payments for Ecosystem Services: Identifying and quantifying the value of services available and engaging with businesses and governments willing to pay for maintaining services such as habitat preservation.

Carbon Offsetting and Climate Finance: Participating in carbon offset projects through preserving or restoring carbon-rich ecosystems can provide funding for conservation efforts by selling carbon credits to those seeking to offset emissions.

Collaborative Partnerships: Forming partnerships with private businesses, governments, and research institutions opens avenues for joint ventures, funding, and corporate social responsibility initiatives that support conservation activities.

Education and Advocacy: Raising awareness about the importance and value of natural capital amongst the public to help effect change at a government, business and community level.

Nature-Based Solutions: Actions to protect, restore and sustainably use ecosystems and natural resources to address social, economic and environmental challenges. These include renewable energy regeneration, habitat enhancement, regenerative agriculture and native woodland creation.

Natural capital is a growing employment sector with myriad opportunities for skilled individuals. A few of these are highlighted below:

White Cliffs of Dover on a sunny day

A growing green economy is opening up diverse job opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, eco-friendly technologies, and green infrastructure development.

Skills in the conservation and environmental sectors will play a crucial role in implementing and advocating for nature-based solutions to combat climate change and build back biodiversity.

Stricter environmental regulations and policies to protect natural resources and combat pollution are leading to more opportunities with a policy and regulatory focus.

Corporate Sustainability as businesses increasingly recognise the importance of sustainability in their operations and supply chains and strive to adopt more sustainable practices, there will be a demand for professionals who can guide and implement their sustainability strategies.

Innovations in technology, such as remote sensing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence, are transforming environmental monitoring and conservation efforts and require expertise.

The rise of green finance and impact investing is directing more funding towards environmentally focused projects. This influx of capital creates opportunities for individuals with financial and environmental expertise to work on projects that deliver positive environmental outcomes.

As urban areas expand, the importance of being able to address urban environmental challenges and incorporate nature-based solutions into city planning is only going to grow. Ecosystem restoration initiatives will also require skills to rehabilitate degraded landscapes.

Effective communication and advocacy for environmental causes will continue to be crucial in order to engage communities, raise awareness, and foster sustainable behaviour change.

Group of people around a table talking over schematics and paperwork

Savills and the natural capital sector – Jon Dearsley joint head of natural capital provides some insights into our involvement

Savills has responded to the growing interest and demand for natural capital expertise by developing an in-house team of natural capital advisors. The team helps clients integrate the new world of environmental, social and governance (ESG) and natural capital into their existing business objectives. They work for clients across the country and therefore come across land holdings of all types and a huge variety of businesses and the key is to create a bespoke solution for each client. The team outlines some of the key issues for the sector and some of the future opportunities.

Natural Capital is an emerging sector which is evolving rapidly. At times it can be a challenge keeping on top of the sector’s evolution but it does encourage us to question our current approach to the management, use and occupation of land and property. Currently there is a lack of visibility and data around the economics of the natural capital market and this combined with limited case studies deters engagement in the sector; this reluctance to “change” will only improve through education and trusted evidence of successful projects. We tackle these challenges with optimism; drawing on our extensive land management expertise and through applying strategic thinking – we also draw on our enviable rural research team who are at the forefront of land policy changes.

Change has always driven our client’s business and we are in a time of unprecedented change. It would be easy to list biodiversity net gain (BNG), carbon net zero requirements in the supply chain or even environmental land management scheme (ELMS) as the key opportunities but I see the biggest opportunity being helping clients truly understand the effect their business has on the environment. For a client to make the most of the new markets they need to understand how it integrates with their business. We have developed a rural performance review to provide a baseline, which is unique to each client and is the first stage via the Rural Performance Review is the first stage of enabling a client to do this.

For further information please contact: Mark Scott head of talent and recruitment for Savills rural and projects business, or Jon Dearsley joint head of Savills natural capital:

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Posted On: 25/08/2023

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