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Local Investment in Natural Capital

Helping nature breathe in our towns and cities


Last year we announced the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) had been selected as one of four national programmes titled Local Investment in Natural Capital (LINC). The Defra funded £1million LINC programme is part of the government’s Green Finance Strategy and will build the capacity and capability of local leaders and partners to attract finance at scale to:

  • Create a nature-positive future, restoring habitats and biodiversity, and connectivity for people and nature.
  • Deliver nature-based solutions to climate risks; improve water quality; reduce flood risk; sequester carbon; improve air quality; and provide urban cooling.
  • Address socio-economic related inequalities in health by improving the quality quantity, and access to green and blue space.
  • Maximise the opportunities and benefits of ecosystem services and natural capital assets.
  • Strengthen the region’s green economy to provide environmental improvements and sustainable growth as part of the Levelling Up agenda, Climate Adaptation Plans, Local Nature Recovery Strategy, Net Zero, and Biodiversity Net Gain.

The ambitions of the LINC programme, to enable the public sector (and their third sector partners) to become more market-facing with their projects and programmes, will support delivery of the West Midlands Natural Environment Plan.

How will we achieve these ambitions?

The LINC programme aims to enable the region to be in a state of readiness to attract private finance into natural capital projects by building the capacity, effective governance arrangements, and capability of local leaders and partner organisations. By March 2025 we will:

  • Build a regional Natural Capital Project Pipeline
  • Fund pilot projects to transition towards investment readiness
  • Conduct market research and build networks with investors and buyers
  • Produce a Natural Capital Finance Strategy for the region
  • Develop an Investment Vehicle / Fund / Platform
  • Produce a Natural Capital Investment Prospectus for the region.

Get Involved

We would like to extend a warm invitation to all our partners and stakeholders to join us in this opportunity to strengthen the region’s green economy, and to utilise our collective scale and influence to be at the forefront of nature recovery, climate adaptation, and improving access to blue/green space.

Our approach is open to all regional stakeholders getting involved to help shape and then ultimately deliver projects that will unlock private investment.

To get involved as a project delivery organisation, local business, or investor please contact:

How will LINC support local authorities, our stakeholders, and project delivery organisations?

The LINC programme will enable WMCA to provide the following support to regional partners in 2024:

  • Access to specialist green finance consultancy support
  • Funding to accelerate pilot projects
  • Technical/financial/legal support in developing investable projects
  • Knowledge exchange and market research
  • Maximising the investment proposition of projects
  • Aggregating projects at a regional scale to attract & de-risk investment
  • Communication and marketing activities/products

To access this support please submit your projects via the project pipeline proforma below.

Building a regional pipeline of natural capital projects

One of the opportunities we have identified is to develop a regional pipeline of projects delivering socio-economic and environmental outcomes which can be monetised via voluntary and mandatory nature markets to attract and distribute finance from both the public and private sector.    

These projects are likely to be clustered into natural capital finance themes and we would welcome engagement from all stakeholders to help us build the framework, ensuring it delivers added value for landowners, asset owners, project delivery organisations, regional businesses, and local communities. Natural capital investment themes currently in scope include:

  • Biodiversity Net Gain & Woodland Carbon Code
  • Nature-based solutions to support climate adaptation
  • Green & blue infrastructure (including transport & housing projects)
  • Nature recovery & connectivity
  • Access to blue & greenspace

To submit projects to be included in the regional pipeline and to receive support from the LINC programme, please provide as much information as possible using the Project Pipeline Proforma below:

Funding for Pilot Projects

Thanks to the £1 million DEFRA funded LINC programme, WMCA has additional funds to transition pilot projects to being “investment ready”. To ensure projects are at a suitable stage to receive this accelerator funding please refer to the Green Finance Institute’s Investment Readiness Toolkit. We would expect projects to demonstrate significant progress against milestones 1 to 4, and ideally to have started work on milestone 5.

We will shortly be inviting expressions of interest to apply for this funding. We would like to invite you take advantage of this opportunity by reviewing your existing natural capital projects against the GFI Investment Readiness Toolkit and to start thinking about the activities this funding could deliver by December 2024 to accelerate projects to being investment ready.

We would recommend focusing on smaller-scale demonstrator projects/sites which can then be replicated and scaled-up after proof of concept.

Building a regional finance vehicle for natural capital

Securing public and private sector finance at scale for the region will require more than a project pipeline. Investors and funders will require the system architecture to streamline transactions and provide assurance that all technical, legal, and contractual requirements are robust and verified.

WMCA will work with our green finance consultants to build the natural capital investment vehicle/fund/platform, legal entity, and governance structure for the region. By working at a regional level our ambition is to increase the scale and range of investment propositions, provide cost savings through economies of scale, de-risk investment across a portfolio, create stronger brand identity, and to provide a single point of entry to investment in the region’s natural capital.

The finance vehicle will also increase opportunities to leverage emergent funding streams, providing a blended finance model to create a more prosperous and better-connected West Midlands which is fairer, greener, and healthier.

For more information on the LINC programme, please see the documents below:

  • An introduction to green finance by Defra can be viewed here.
  • An overview of the national LINC programme by the Environment Agency can be viewed here
  • An overview of the LINC programme at the WMCA be viewed here.
  • An update on the programme from Autumn 2023 can be viewed here.

Further information on green finance and nature markets:

  • An introduction to green finance by Defra can be viewed here.
  • A Nature Finance Glossary developed by Ecosystem Knowledge Network can be viewed here.
  • The 2023 Nature Finance UK Review by EKN can be viewed here.
  • HM Government’s Green Finance Strategy can be viewed  here.
  • HM Government’s Nature Markets Framework can be viewed here.

Contact us

For more information, or to get involved as a project delivery organisation, landowner, or investor please contact us at: