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Natural Capital for Farmers:
Tuesday 6th December, 10:00 am

Members of the Marlborough Downs, Pewsey Downs and Southern Streams Farmers Groups attended a forum on Natural Capital at Marlborough Golf Club.

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We are all becoming more aware of the potential value of natural capital, carbon, and biodiversity as tradable commodities.  But how does a farmer find out what his or her farm has to offer in this context?  And how does one go about putting a value on these complex assets, let alone realising that value into hard cash?  We hope this event helped farmers make sense of natural capital jargon and begin to navigate their way through the maze of schemes that seem to be offering the earth to save the earth ... or are they?


We had three great speakers to set the scene and introduce the main concepts: 

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Jenny Phelps, MBE

Introduction to natural capital and natural capital

accounting - measuring, monitoring and monetising

Jenny is a Senior Farm Conservation Adviser for the Gloucestershire Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, and represents farmers and land owners that care about the environment.  She is a member of DEFRA’s Environmental Land Management Scheme Advisory Board; Trustee for the Foundation for Common Land; Lead Facilitator on the Farmer Guardians of the Upper Thames Facilitation Fund; Lead for the Upper Thames Catchment Partnership, Cotswolds Payments for Ecosystem Services and Natural Flood Management Defra pilots. 


Jenny developed the Integrated Local Delivery (ILD) framework with the CCRI, Natural England and Action for Communities in Rural England (ACRE) to achieve multi objective environmental delivery, and leads on the Farmer Guardians of the Upper Thames ILD ELMS Trial.  In recognition of her work on ‘Engaging Communities in Environmental Protection’, Jenny was awarded an MBE in 2016.

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Tim Field

A landscape approach to carbon

Tim founded Agricology with the Organic Research Centre and Allerton Project in 2014 to disseminate best practice and research on practical, sustainable farming.  


He is CEO of Carbon Quester, working with the Rothamsted​ ​Research Institute to develop an affordable, accurate soil carbon testing and modelling methodology.  Tim is also facilitator of over 100 farms across 85,000 acres in the North East Cotswold Farmer Cluster, who are undertaking a Landscape Recovery pilot project on the River Evenlode.  

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With a background in biology and rural surveying, Tim has twenty years of experience in environmental management of farms, property, and the food supply chain.

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Jon Davies

Biodiversity net gain for farmers 

After 24 years with Cresswell Associates and then Hyder Consulting and Arcadis (consecutive acquisitions), Jon now works for the RSK group, a global leader in the delivery of sustainable solutions.  Jon set up RSK Wilding to use habitat restoration, biodiversity enhancement and, where appropriate, rewilding to help reverse climate change and biodiversity loss.  His ambition is to bring together property developers and land managers to use biodiversity net gain to deliver high quality wildlife habitats as part of an economically vibrant farming landscape.


Following the presentations, the speakers were joined by Lynn Trigwell (Wiltshire Council) and Jeremy van Ginneken (Thames Water) for a panel session during which farmers were able to ask questions and explore the key topics in more detail.  The conversations continued over lunch and we came away with a lot to think about.

What now?

It was clear that farmers are keen to understand more about natural capital, what it might be worth as a commodity to trade, and how to access funding.  All members of the three groups were contacted after the event to find out what support they would like from their advisers in this context.

This event was facilitated by Black Sheep in collaboration with Perdix Partnership and FWAG SE

and was supported by a grant from the North Wessex Downs AONB

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