Natural Capital Challenge Fund

Devon County Council has supported six projects that use Natural Capital as a tool to create employment and skills.

What is Natural Capital?

Natural capital is the sum of our ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, soils, minerals, our air, our seas and natural processes. These are all elements of nature that either directly or indirectly bring value to people and communities. They do this in many ways but chiefly by providing us with food, clean air and water, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation and protection from hazards.

Natural Capital is a key asset for Devon as a predominantly rural county with two coastlines, two National Parks and five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

If we make the most of our natural capital, we can bring about a range of social and economic benefits as well as protecting and enhancing our natural environment. The benefits can include improved health and wellbeing, opportunities for culture and recreation, sustainable energy and transport, enhanced biodiversity, protection from natural hazards such as flooding, green infrastructure, business opportunities, growth in employment and skills, and a boost to long-term prosperity.

Natural Capital Challenge Fund

The Natural Capital Challenge Fund was set up to support the recovery of businesses and the wider economy of Devon following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The key objective of this fund was to support, develop and fund a small number of high-quality Natural Capital initiatives that will create employment and training opportunities in Devon.

Successful Projects

Apricot Centre CIC – School of Regenerative Land-Bases Business

Devon County Council has supported the launch of a new school of regenerative land-based business. This funding has created 23 free training opportunities for students to gain an accredited NVQ3 in land-based systems. The project has restored 240 metres of linear features and is forecasting the removal of 430 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

Brickhouse Vineyard Ltd – Soil and Soul

Brickhouse Vineyard’s pilot project has demonstrated how businesses can diversify through the adoption of regenerative farming practices. They are restoring the land surrounding the vineyard and utilising it to create a no-dig market garden, with the produce sold locally. The project will support several local businesses and plant over 1,000 trees.

Coldharbour Mill Trust Ltd – Culm Valley Rural Skills

Culm Valley Rural Skills is a training programme to help inactive and unemployed people in Uffculme and Culm Valley area to gain rural skills to support their transition towards getting a job, in turn regenerating and restoring an area of land. It supports those worst affected by the pandemic and engages them in the labour market.

Devon Wildlife Trust – Northern Devon Natural Solutions

Devon Wildlife Trust has been supported by Devon County Council to establish six new posts to support local landowners, farms and smallholdings with rewilding initiatives and habitat restoration.
This will create healthier ecosystems and address economic needs in this significantly deprived area, advising 100 land managers and supporting over 400 people to learn new skills.

EcoLogic Consultant Ecologists – East Devon Conservation Grazing

This project has employed and trained staff to establish a nature conservation grazing and rewilding enterprise in partnership with the RSPB and East Devon District Council’s Countryside Service. NCCF funding will provide assistance during a difficult time due to the removal of farm subsidies.

Running Deer CIC – Countryside Worker Skills

Devon County Council has funded a training programme delivering countryside management skills and accredited qualifications free of charge to people not in education, employment or training.
It aims to reduce the skills gap for people facing challenges and barriers to work, including those displaced by the pandemic.