Founded in June 2021, with the specific aim of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises, Oxygen Conservation is an innovative start-up working to protect and improve natural assets. The company has now taken a significant step forward in its commitment to scaling conservation, with the backing of over £20m of lending from Triodos Bank UK to purchase the two new sites.
It will work on the delivery of a diverse range of projects, including species reintroduction, landscape connectivity, regenerative agriculture, and woodland creation. It also plans to incorporate renewable energy generation, sustainable housing and eco-tourism, and carbon sequestration through woodland and peatland restoration.
The finance is believed to be the largest conservation-focused commercial debt package in the UK to date. Explaining why new and innovative finance is needed to support nature-based projects now, Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK, says: “Urgent restoration of the natural environment is essential to both tackling and being resilient to climate change, and the scale of investment needed is significant. We need to see ourselves as part of natural systems and create a new economy that is connected to the natural environment on which it depends.”
Introducing the landscapes
Invergeldie is an iconic Scottish Highlands estate in a truly spectacular setting. Currently home to a former grouse moor and small hill farming operation, Oxygen Conservation will be working with the on-site team, local businesses and the community over the coming 18 months to create a conservation-focused masterplan for the site to deliver genuine landscape-level restoration of natural processes.
During its custodianship, Oxygen Conservation intends to restore significant areas of peatland and plant large areas of native broadleaf woodland, whilst transitioning the farm to an organic, regenerative system that complements and enhances the natural environment.
Blackburn and Hartsgarth presents the organisation with the opportunity to create one of the most significant conservation projects in the UK by building upon the excellent environmental work already delivered by the previous owner, Buccleuch, on-site and complementing the neighbouring 10,500 acres of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.
By taking a holistic approach, Oxygen Conservation ensures its efforts benefit not only the environment but also contribute towards the social and economic wellbeing of local communities. Prioritising working with these communities and forming strategic partnerships, ensuring its plans meet the needs of the environment and those who depend on it.
Working in partnership
The partnership between Oxygen Conservation and Triodos Bank stems from a shared vision for protecting the natural world. “Triodos is changing what it means to be a bank. That’s why, when we were looking for someone to partner with to put together a significant conservation-based debt package, there was only one answer,” explains Rich Stockdale, managing director of Oxygen Conservation. “We are so proud to stand side by side with them today.”
“It’s only by creating these types of funding packages and frameworks with respected financial institutions that people can have the confidence to allow private finance to flow into natural capital at scale – thereby funding the protection of the natural world. Thank you to everyone at Triodos for their passion, vision and commitment to making this possible. We will now do everything we can to only deliver positive environmental and social impact at our incredible sites.”
Bevis delivers a similar message of support: “We have worked for over five years to find models for investing in nature restoration that deliver the greatest public good,” he explains.
“Oxygen Conservation is pioneering a brand-new approach to protecting and restoring nature and its commitment to deliver positive environmental and social impact, while generating a sustainable financial return, very much aligns with our own values as a bank. This loan, which adds to our pioneering portfolio of nature-based investment projects, is fully committed for 25 years, and is understood to be the largest debt transaction on nature-based finance in the UK. We’re extremely proud to be working together on this groundbreaking finance structure and hope to see similar projects around the UK.”