Prospects for an ambitious nature enhancement project across half of the Pentland Hills Regional Park have received a major funding boost – and the public is being asked to contribute their views on the initiative.  

Project L-AND is a partnership between nature recovery consultants Ecosulis and the Pentland Land Managers Association (PLMA), a group of farmers and land managers who have come together to collaborate on improving the environment and biodiversity in the Pentlands.

The potential for habitat creation, carbon sequestration, flood management and water quality improvements will be explored by Project L-AND. Neil Melleney, Project Lead at Ecosulis said “We are working with farmers, land managers, local conservation groups and communities to co-develop a plan that is scientifically informed and optimised for environmental benefit and habitat connectivity. We also want to connect people and nature for social, educational, health and wellbeing benefits.”

A survey has also been launched and the public is being asked to comment on what developments they would like to see to help nature in the Pentland Hills.

The project will also be speaking to local businesses looking to support high-integrity natural capital projects. Lucy Jenner, Head of Natural Capital at Savills said “It is also hoped that we can leverage private finance for nature recovery in the Pentlands. More and more companies are measuring and managing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts. As half of global GDP relies intrinsically on nature, [1] protecting natural resources is essential part of managing risk for sustainable business and enabling businesses to play their role in supporting nature recovery. We hope Project L-AND can seek help from local organisations looking to support high-integrity natural capital projects close to home.”

The Pentland Hills are mostly comprised of small family farms.  Investment in nature can provide diversified income streams to secure rural jobs and maintain rural communities. The cluster of farmers are the first Wildlife Estate Scotland (WES) collaboration which promotes best practice in wildlife and habitat management. WES Caroline Pringle, Wildlife Estate Scotland Project Manager said, “Farmers can have a greater impact for nature by working in collaboration with others. This funding provides essential professional support to develop an ecologically optimal, landscape-scale plan for the cluster.”

The project has been awarded a £100,000 development grant from the Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS). Delivered by NatureScot in collaboration with The Scottish Government and in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said “As we tackle the climate-nature crisis with a growing urgency, everyone has the responsibility to get us to net zero. The FIRNS grant to project L-AND is part of our commitment to offer communities, companies, charities and individuals across Scotland the opportunity to develop bold business cases and financial models which will attract the investment required to restore nature. I’m inspired by the creativity and ambition of projects such as project L-AND which show us as we scale up our efforts to halt biodiversity loss and create a nature-rich country for us all. A thriving natural capital market that benefits the restoration of our rivers, coasts, rainforests, peatlands, farmlands and urban greenspaces is great for communities and great for nature.”

[1] World Economic Forum Report January 2020 “Nature Risk Rising:
Why the Crisis Engulfing Nature Matters for Business and the Economy”