DEFRA hands Arup and Knepp Estate development funding

16 September 2022 2 min. read

The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has selected Arup and Knepp Estate to develop a new carbon measurement tool for land managers. The grant will help support an accounting system for emissions involved in nature projects across Britain.

As climate change challenges continue to mount, many are increasingly looking to the natural world for solutions; meaning there is now a growing appetite for ‘rewilding’. That means that rather than preserving an ever more precarious status quo, a number of countries have actively sought to restore and enhance natural processes and core wilderness areas, with the reintroduction of keystone species. In the UK, examples of this include wild beavers living in Argyll, Tayside and Devon, helping to prevent local flooding by increasing river capacity with their dams.

The process of rewilding the UK comes with a unique set of major challenges which require innovative new techniques to address. Without the adequate collaboration between organisations across the public and private divide, it is unlikely that the potential of rewilding will be realised.

DEFRA hands Arup and Knepp Estate development funding

In order to help address some of this disconnect, a project team led by Arup and Knepp Estate has been awarded Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) funding to develop a new carbon measurement tool for land managers. The £100,000 government grant – as part of the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), with grants provided from DEFRA and the Environment Agency – aims to create confidence in carbon accounting by rewilding and nature recovery projects.

Andy Chalmers, Associate Director at Arup, commented, “This will address the constraints and problems we’re seeing across the UK. Peatland restoration and tree planting are currently seen as the only two real options for verified credits in the UK, which limits flexibility for more innovative projects.  This tool will change that, helping the market incentivise the right choices for the environment and society, as well as for carbon sequestration.”

For 20 years, Knepp Estate have been running one of the country’s most successful rewilding projects on their West Sussex estate. Now the Estate will provide the testing ground for Arup’s project, which aims to expand existing carbon codes in the UK while simultaneously generating significant wider environmental and social benefits.

Charlie Burrell, Owner of Knepp Estate, added, “The importance of working out better models of how wood pasture, scrubland and rewilding projects contribute to carbon sequestration is paramount, if we are to heal the planet. ”

The development of the system will facilitate cost effective measurement of carbon capture at scale, with the aim of generating greater private investment in rewilding and nature recovery projects which can deliver additional benefits alongside carbon storage such as increased biodiversity.