We're working on a template for how private funding can be made more accessible to organisations and land managers working on habitat restoration.  

About our project - new information below, updated January 2024.

Thanks to a new award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) grant scheme, we are leading the new project on behalf of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest (ASR), a voluntary partnership of more than 25 organisations that are committed to collaborative action for the benefit of Scotland’s rainforest.

Photo by Ian Dow/ACT

Saving Scotland's Rainforest

“We’re hoping to establish a template for how the relationship between ASR partners and private investors, who operate in different worlds, could work.” says ACT chief executive Julie Young.

“Private investors are interested in nature restoration, and we’re keen to find a way of helping them to do that in a way that benefits not just our rainforest, but also the people who live and work in it.”

How our project will work

The situation

Scotland’s rainforest lies in a zone along the west coast; in total 18,500km2 or about 23% of Scotland’s land area. However, within this area, there is only about 30,000 hectares of core rainforest remaining, and in small fragments. This remaining rainforest faces several threats, including:

  • invasive non-native species, such as Rhododendron ponticum
  • high levels of herbivores, such as deer, grazing on young trees.  

Effective restoration of rainforest habitat needs to happen on a large scale, but the business case for land managers and communities needs development.

ASR aims to restore all of Scotland’s rainforest by 2045, linking up existing areas and doubling its size. 

Existing sources of funding for the restoration of Scotland’s rainforest are limited and lack both the scale and longevity required. ASR has identified a finance gap of £500m; the difference between existing and committed funding for rainforest restoration and the cost of achieving restoration.

Through the FIRNS project, ASR seeks to develop an accessible, scalable and transparent investment model to channel finance into rainforest restoration in Scotland. 

Our goals

Using the combined expertise of ASR partners, land managers and local communities, we understand what it takes to restore rainforest habitat, but the lack of a business case and fragmented landownership are primary and complex barriers. ASR will convene land managers, local communities, investors, buyers of ecosystem services and delivery partners to try and create a model to overcome them.

Photo by Ian Dow/ACT

Key outcomes

Here are the key outcomes that we’re trying to deliver through collaboration with our partners:

1.      Establish the business case to justify the investment required to restore rainforest habitats in partnership with land managers. The investment will be repaid through the sale of ecosystem services. The initial focus of the project will be carbon removal credits validated through the Woodland Carbon Code, but our aim is to create a model with which any high-integrity ecosystem service standard or code that supports rainforest restoration can be used as they emerge.

2.      Establish a governance structure that can facilitate investment at scale.

3.      Establish a set of ecological, environmental and social project standards and indicators for Scotland’s rainforest restoration that make sure the habitat created, extended or improved through private investment delivers for both nature and for local communities.

4.      Establish a set of integrity standards that investors and purchasers of ecosystem services would have to meet, designed to make sure that potential finance and corporate partners are aligned with the just transition to net zero, demonstrate support for the conservation and protection of the natural environment, and adopt best practices in the management and reporting of their social and environmental impacts.

5.      Establish a protocol for the ASR's engagement with the communities local to rainforest restoration and how restoration financed through the model will deliver benefit to those communities.

Get in touch

We’ll keep this page updated as the project progresses.

Update  Jan '24.  The contract to develop the business model and governance approach has been awarded to Palladium International Ltd.  The contract to develop a project standard and integrity charter has been awarded to Make+Do Studios.  Work is already well underway with both organisations, and they are collaborating with each other.  We're also involved with the FIRNS Community of Practice, facilitated by NatureScot which brings together representatives from each of the 27 FIRNS funded projects.   

If you’d like any more information about the project, have any queries or are an investor or buyer of ecosystem services that would like to register an interest in the restoration of Scotland’s rainforest, then please contact [email protected]

All photos, including the banner, by Ian Dow/ACT

Making private funding accessible

Finding a way to make private funding accessible to small organisations like ACT is going to make a huge difference to habitat restoration work in Argyll and beyond.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Scotland Caroline Clark says: “FIRNS is an exciting opportunity to explore new ideas on how we attract vital investment to support the restoration of nature in Scotland. We are funding over £1.8m in grants to develop investment models that are good for nature, good for communities and good for the economy. 

“At the National Lottery Heritage Fund we are passionate about communities being at the heart of what we fund, and community involvement is vital to these projects. It is thanks to National Lottery Players that we can support this innovative work.”

About the Facility for Investment Ready Nature In Scotland (FIRNS) 

The Facility for Investment Ready Nature In Scotland (FIRNS) is delivered by NatureScot in partnership with National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The projects will make a key contribution to helping grow the use of responsible private investment and market-based mechanisms to finance the restoration of Scotland’s nature, while bringing benefits to communities.

These will be undertaken by a range of organisations, frequently working in partnership, and including private individuals and companies, community organisations, charities and trusts, and public bodies. 

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. 

Read more on the Heritage Fund website.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Follow our Scottish accounts @HeritageFundSCO on Twitter and @HeritageFundScotland on Facebook

Each week, National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes across the UK.