PRESS RELEASE: 12th October 2020
Devon’s first environmental foundation launches to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises by funding nature regeneration
The Devon Environment Foundation sets Ambitious Aims to Protect and Restore Devon’s Natural Environment and Increase Biodiversity while Benefitting the Local Economy
Devon, UK – To bolster the UK government’s pledge to increase the amount of protected land and sea to 30% by 2030, the newly launched Devon Environment Foundation (DEF) – the first UK branch of Ben Goldsmith’s environmental charity, the Conservation Collective – has been set up to protect and restore Devon’s natural habitats by channelling vital funding from businesses and philanthropists to Devon’s most effective grassroots environmental projects.
As one of largest rural counties in the UK, with two separate coastlines, Devon has historically relied greatly on its natural assets, which are today under significant threat from the climate and biodiversity emergencies. However, there is huge scope to harness Devon’s inherent assets to tackle today’s unprecedented crises by applying Nature-based Solutions on an exponential scale.
Ben Goldsmith, Founder of the Conservation Collective said, “Everywhere you look there are brilliant people working to create positive environmental change. Small amounts of funding, strategically directed, can supercharge this work. Our new foundation in Devon aims to showcase what 30% for nature looks like on a local level and help the UK government reach its national commitment by 2030.”
Globally, ecosystem services are estimated to be worth around £100 trillion annually. They support key industries such as farming, fishing, and tourism, that employ 1.2 billion people. A recent World Economic Forum report estimates that more than half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on healthy natural ecosystems.
UK natural capital assets were valued at £951billion by the Office for National Statistics in 2019. While in Devon, supporting nature and increasing biodiversity clearly benefits these major sectors of the local economy:
- Good for tourism: providing opportunities to run wildlife safaris, promote staycations and increase education around nature and the value of native wildlife, while tapping into the increased appreciation of nature since the pandemic
- Good for agriculture: farming with nature brings economic benefits, while increasing wildlife, carbon sequestration, soil and crop quality, reducing flooding, soil erosion, and pollution
- Good for fishing: collaborative management of fisheries for biodiversity gives fishermen more autonomy and by working less and catching more, fisherman can sell ‘reserve seafood’ for higher profits
The foundation’s founding business donors include: Exeter-based Olympus Power a renewable energy developer specialising in fully-funded projects in the UK; Rockfish restaurant group, serving local, sustainably caught seafood on Devon’s South Coast and Vivobarefoot, a minimalist natural footwear company and B Corporation™ Certified business.
Simon Nicholls, Co-Founder and Chair of DEF, and Founder and MD of Olympus Power said, “Nature is vital to the economic future of Devon. And there are many grassroots organisations that have sprung up all over the county, run by people who are passionate about the state of the environment on their doorstep. We want to build coalitions between companies and projects – matching campaigns with new sources of funding to enable them to scale and grow quickly to meet the urgent need for exponential positive change.”
Mitch Tonks, Co-Founder of DEF, and Chef and Restaurateur of Rockfish said “The overarching goal of DEF is to connect the funders with the ‘doers’ – providing a conduit for those who want to get more involved in protecting and restoring land, river, and marine ecosystems with those who are doing great work on the ground. We want to work together to protect Devon’s natural resources and coastlines.”
The DEF welcomes donations and involvement from individuals and businesses and encourages local environmental projects to apply for grants. In its first round of grant applications, the foundation has supported four local projects:
- The Apricot Centre: a regenerative farm in South Devon that has collected five years’ worth of data on farming productivity through sequestering carbon, supporting biodiversity, creating climate resilience and providing local food security. DEF funds will enable the Apricot Centre to share its findings with the farming community to increase the education and adoption of new methods.
- Moor Meadows: a meadows restoration scheme that increases plant and insect biodiversity by encouraging landowners to create, conserve and restore vital meadow habitat on Dartmoor. DEF funds will enable Moor Meadows to create a toolkit offering advice and learnings to inspire landowners to devote more space to natural meadows and create nature corridors throughout Devon.
- Biome Algae: an off-shore seaweed farming research trial, with the backing of the University of Exeter and Plymouth, that aims to prove the economic, environmental and social benefits of off-shore kelp farming. DEF is helping to fund this research with an aim to scaling this pioneering practice to other locations off the Devon and Cornwall coasts.
- Till the Coast is Clear: a plastic pollution clean-up initiative clearing shorelines of plastic pollution and hard-to-reach areas of river, coast and estuary using a special recyclable boat and a fleet of kayaks, while educating and engaging local communities on plastic waste prevention. Funding from the DEF will enable them to continue clean-up work and move into new locations along the Devon coast.
Amanda Keetley, Executive Director of the DEF said “Nature conservation is essential, but it’s no longer enough. We’ve taken too much from nature, and now it’s time to give back by funding nature regeneration too. This is the decisive decade to create a legacy of a living world for future generations. Our aim is to inspire many more people and businesses to fund nature regeneration, and to enable many more nature restoration projects to exponentially scale their vital work.”
Donate to the DEF here
Get Involved with the DEF here
Explore DEF grants and find out how to apply here