Nature-based Solutions and Business

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On the 8th of July, The Future Economy Network (FEN) and Future Leap hosted an online interactive event titled “Nature-based Solutions and Business”. Before the event began, the attendees enjoyed some pre-sessional networking.

Katherine Piper of Future Leap welcomed the attendees before giving an insight into The Future Economy Network, Future Leap and the many benefits of membership, as well as the upcoming Festival of Sustainable Business on the 21st of September. She then introduced the speakers:

Tom Walmsley, Nature Connection/Nature Sparks

● Tim Oliver, Wanderlands

Paul Pivcevic, Regenerative Partners

Tom Walmsley, Nature Connections

Nature-based Solutions are “Actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”. Nature Based Solutions could provide ⅓ of the carbon mitigation the country needs but it would require 40% of the UK to be rewilded.

The most difficult aspect of Tom’s work is the communication encouraging communication between Nature Based Solutions and business. One of the ways in which projects can gather support from business is by highlighting the benefits of green spaces for wellbeing.

Finally, he pointed out the implications Nature-based Solutions have for keeping future pandemics at bay, just another reason why they should be a priority.

Q&A with Tom

Q: Can you integrate ecological enhancement with carbon offsetting and involve staff with something like tree planting, for example? What’s the best way to offset your footprint?

Getting staff involved is getting easier. Younger trees that are still growing absorb more carbon, however the more biodiverse the area is, in the long run, the more carbon it will lock in. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set up a fully complete ecosystem in which there will be many ways for staff to get involved, rather than having them only plant trees.

Q: How long does it take to absorb carbon and rebuild ecosystems in the UK?

A wild ecosystem is effective even in its first 10 years both for carbon offsetting and biodiversity, what we are doing now is already having an impact. We should do as much as we can right now, it will make a difference.

Q: What is your opinion on the current plan to move elephants from a zoo in Kent out to Kenya into the wild?

Worrying about tigers and elephants is not what we should be focusing on right now. I would rather they stayed put, and instead use the cost to build a wildlife farm.

Tim Oliver, Wanderlands

Wanderlands work with businesses and individuals, offering carbon audits and setting up carbon management plans. They focus on longevity and biodiversity and therefore focus on planting native broadleaf trees, despite the fact other species might sequester more carbon in the short term. Furthermore, they only use chartered ecologists and environmentalists and have a very strong, disciplined approach.

Wanderlands has a strategic partnership with Stantec Group, an appointed natural solutions provider for the UK, and they also use independent ecologists and environmentalists. One concept they encourage clients to adopt is ‘meaningful gifts’. For example, trees or building virtual woods. This engages employees and enhances the brand position.

Q&A with Tim

Q: How do you address the narrative of human vs nature?

Creating narrative is a key skill that we rely on. We use smart, technically qualified people to do the assessment. We commit to the execution. We bring world class marketing to the narrative. Trees are incredibly complex so when clients come to our sites we can only explain the basics but what’s effective is helping to realise what their trees will look like in a year and drip-feeding them the information.

Q: Do any of the developers you work with design ecological enhancement into their buildings?

The reality is no, because they don’t know what to do, but they want to do something because their target audience is demanding it.

Paul Pivcevic, Regenerative Partners

In an incredibly complex world, regeneration is an attempt to frame the complexity and yet enable us to take action. They use an Integrated Capital Approach which is a wider, more systemic way of looking at how stakeholders interact in order to bring about successful regeneration. They ask what the potential is of the businesses and livelihoods that used to be in a place and look at the history of a place and its people.

Paul talked through the spectrum of different perspectives ranging from ‘Extract value’, which simply asks ‘what’s in it for me?’, to ‘ Regenerate Life’, which asks humans to become smaller in relation to the world around us, making sure everything is thriving because we are interdependent. It’s about thinking of your role as what you put in, not what you get out.

Living systems thinking is supporting life to flourish with all value added being able to regenerate. This requires stakeholder coalition.

Q&A with Paul

Q: How do you pull people away from linear thinking?

Try to draw on concepts such as the seasons and natural cycles of the earth.

Q: How can we increase the value of wild spaces for people and the government and get away from trade-offs?

Paul: We must ask how we can co-evolve with nature. By asking what the potential of a place is, you already engage local people and interest.

Tim: We have to be pragmatic because we don’t have much time. I have focused on corporations and say big businesses have to get on board because otherwise we will just be going round in circles. The commercial people that get into our category will enable influence to happen.

Paul: The multi-capital approach is gaining momentum. Shareholders will demand it. It’s not a lack of desire that holds things back, only a lack of understanding and education.

60 Second Pitches

To encourage networking, attendees made use of the 60 second pitch opportunity, including Garrett Creative (an independent design studio based at the Future Leap Hub), UX Craft and Minty Green.


After a final round of networking, Katherine brought the event to a close, thanking all the speakers and attendees, which without our events calendar would not be possible.

Event Notes by Jessica Thomlinson-Blount, BA(Hons) Geography, University of Manchester.

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