Finance is a central component of governance. Questions related to who pays, for what, and how are central to nature recovery efforts. Moreover, financing nature recovery entails profound implications for who’s voice is included and heard in decision-making processes, how the benefits, costs and risks associated with nature recovery are distributed and, crucially, who decides and how. This project aims to explore these questions by developing a typology of financing mechanisms and interrogate their association with questions related to participation, distribution of costs, benefits and risks and knowledge and data needs.

Although contemporary strategies tend to foreground financing schemes that are based in metaphors and logics associated with markets, for example biodiversity and carbon offsetting, there are a wide range of potential avenues for financing and pursuing nature recovery and associated policy goals. These include tax and subsidy regimes, public and private grant making, debt and equity finance as well as non-financialised/voluntary approaches. This research will examine how, and under what conditions, these different approaches to financing nature recovery alleviate or exacerbate existing inequalities.

We plan to initiate this project by conducting a review of the existing literature and publishing a framing paper. We will then engage with questions empirically by working with partners in a number of landscapes. This may include, for example, exploring the emergence of biodiversity credit schemes in Scotland, the evolution of agricultural subsidy schemes in England, and carbon emissions reduction schemes in Ghana’s cocoa-forest landscapes.


There is growing enthusiasm for high-integrity environmental markets. These are touted as mechanisms for efficiently enabling corporations to meet their environmental targets while channelling investment into landscapes with the potential to deliver nature recovery and climate mitigation. However, there is a wide range of research, much of it focused in the global south, that has raised concerns about the effectiveness and equity of market-based approaches to financing nature recovery. This speaks to the importance of identifying and analysing a diverse range of options for financing and pursuing nature recovery including, but not limited to, market-based schemes. Doing so requires a holistic understanding of the financing landscape and situating different modalities with respect to institutional arrangements and patterns of participation in governance.