Heal Somerset will tackle the nature and climate crises while creating new jobs and work for local tradespeople and businesses. The project will be co-designed and delivered with input from the local community, with initial ideas including areas for food growing and nature learning for children, wildflower meadow creation and a community orchard.
Bevis Watts, Chief Executive of Triodos Bank UK,said: “As a sustainable bank, we have closely supported the organic, biodynamic and permaculture movements for decades. Now to further restore biodiversity and protect nature in the UK – and to address the climate and ecological emergencies – we must find further ways of financing nature preservation and restoration.
“As our first direct loan to a nature restoration project, we are excited to see how the project progresses and hope to be able to support similar initiatives nationwide that address climate change, adapt to its effects and promote biodiversity. This is going to be critical to meeting net zero goals and reversing nature’s decline, both of which are central to our mission to create positive impact with the money entrusted to us by Triodos customers.”
Heal launched at the start of the pandemic in Spring 2020 and, using Heal Somerset as a blueprint, has a goal to establish a major nature recovery site in all 48 English counties by 2050, covering almost 25,000 acres in total.
Heal plans to acquire land using affordable lending, which will be paid down as quickly as possible with mass public land sponsorship, corporate donations and natural capital investment. As well as support from Triodos Bank, this first project is also backed by a loan from Direct Line Group, plus a land fund Heal launched in March 2020, which includes both public and corporate donations and Heal’s unique ‘Heal 3x3’ land sponsorship scheme.
The charity will follow proven nature recovery approaches, using rare breed cattle, pigs and ponies in small numbers to help re-establish natural processes on the land. These animals will be ‘ecosystem engineers’ and not farmed produce.
Jan Stannard, Heal Rewilding co-founder and Chair of Trustees said: “Nature will only recover if it has more space to thrive and we join a growing number of landowners across the UK who are making that happen. The process of rewilding has already begun and though it will take many years for nature to recover, we expect to see positive changes immediately, first small and then more visible within a couple of years. The potential for nature to bounce back at Heal Somerset is huge and we want to show that together we can take fast, practical action to benefit nature, climate and people.”
Natural regeneration of trees, improved soil health and other plant growth will help fight climate change by capturing carbon. A mosaic of habitats – trees, scrub, grassland, bare earth and water – will ensure the greatest diversity of plant and animal species.
Heal expects early benefits of rewilding to include an increase in insect numbers, growth of plants including tree saplings, and a greater abundance and diversity of species. There will be public access across much of the land so people can see rewilding in action.
Triodos Bank has committed to an ambitiousAsOneToZero strategy to become net zero in 2035. Greenhouse gas emissions of all Triodos Bank's loans and funds’ investments will be greatly reduced, using a science-based targets approach. The remaining emissions will be balanced or ‘inset’ by investing considerably in nature projects that remove greenhouse gases from the air.
In the UK, Triodos has also been working on developing new pilot investable business models connected to nature restoration, such as a Natural Flood Management (NFM) project that will invest £1.5m to reduce flood risk to communities in Lancashire.
Notes to editors
For further information and photos please contact:
Ed Grattan, Triodos Bank
- [email protected]
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead, it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 63 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.
Heal is a national charity taking urgent, practical action on nature recovery and climate change by raising money to buy land with nature recovery potential in England. Following the acquisition in December 2022 of the charity’s first location in the south, the charity aims to acquire its second landholding in the north of England within the next two years. Heal’s land can be sponsored by individuals through its unique Heal 3x3 scheme, linking a 3m x 3m patch of land to a what3words address. Heal was founded to provide opportunities for everyone, particularly young people, to get involved in rewilding.