How to de-risk your nature-based investment

“Planting trees will fix climate change and can’t be that hard. You just stick a seedling in the ground. Anyone can do it.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this!

Article by Ian Rollins, Chief Operating Officer - Greening Australia

Yes, a seed in the dirt may yield a tree. And that tree will absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

But simplifying it to this level is akin to claiming art is simply throwing paint on a canvas or building a house is just a few bricks and mortar. We know it’s just not the same thing.

Nature is a living system, a breathing web of interconnecting pieces. In one tablespoon of a functioning ecosystem’s topsoil, you will find more variety of life than stars in the night sky.

To make it even more complex, let’s factor in landscape level plantings – the scale we now require for climate mitigation. Not only are we dealing with ecology, but multiple vested stakeholders with a myriad of economic, social, cultural, political and science-based interests.

Time and time again I see ‘tree planting’ hailed as cheap and easy, and time and time again I see well-intentioned climate mitigation funds funnelled into hastily thrown together ‘nature-based solutions’, many of which leave me shaking my head.

Creating climate resilient and sustainable ecosystems at the scale now required is not easy, especially here in Australia.

So here are three essentials if you are looking to safely funnel funds into environmental/nature-based projects which will have an actual on-ground impact.

A black working boot stands next to a fresh, green seedling emerging from the soil.

De-risk through biodiversity

My overarching golden rule (and this is worth remembering) when it comes to rebuilding nature, is this: a biodiverse system is the only type of environmental investment worth making.

You see, biodiversity is nature’s own risk mitigation – its ability to respond and its ability to heal itself. Removing it would be like removing stem cells from your body which help you automatically heal and rebuild when you become sick or broken. Invest in biodiversity!


Select your provider with discernment

If you have funds to funnel into environmental/nature-based projects and you want more security and less risk, ensure your provider meets these criteria, at minimum:

  • has a track record of practical and tangible success on the ground
  • using spatial modelling and scientific rigor to prioritise the landscape to the property level
  • takes an imbedded risk management approach across the restoration project life cycle, from ecosystem design to engineering, construction and management
  • has a framework to provide, with authenticity, a recurring role for First Nations people to influence and participate in all components of the restoration supply chain
  • integrates applied science into design to manage future climate scenarios
  • can demonstrate how your commercial risks are protected and clearly articulates the risks you are taking when investing in nature
  • has the appropriate legal and financial authority to deal with environmental credit schemes, financial products, and associated payment mechanisms to landholders
  • demonstrates they can achieve partnerships with landholders through informed and prior consent, which is equitable, transparent and enduring
  • has a network of skilled practitioners, landholders, scientists, project developers, native seed experts, ecologists, Traditional Owner enterprises, policy/government relations, environmental credit experts and community development professionals.


Then let them do their thing

If you were contracting a helicopter service to fly crews into remote regions, would you demand to know first how every button works in the cockpit? Probably not.

If you have chosen the right provider based on all of the points above, you are in safe hands so treat them like the specialists they are and let them get on with what they do best.

We are at a remarkable intersection in history, where for the first time, environmental values are being prioritised both with landholders and in boardrooms.

But like anything in life – it can be done cheap and easy with a short-term outlook, or it can be done right and create a blue-chip environmental product, a sound investment which will yield multi-faceted returns for planet, people and profit for years to come.


Greening Australia welcomes offers of partnership and support from solution-focused individuals, businesses and governments that share our vision for a low-carbon planet, have a demonstrable commitment to addressing and acting on critical environmental issues, and are ready to embrace new ways of working to create a sustainable future. If you’d like to talk to us about how we could work together, please contact us!

Nature-based solutions