KNP meeting in the Darent Valley – May 2023

On the 18 May, the annual meeting of the KNP Board and Management Working Group took place at Lullingstone Country Park and at Preston Farm in the Darent Valley.

Focused on blended finance at the landscape scale, the Darent Valley provided an excellent example of this, through farmers working together on nature recovery and diversifying income streams.

The morning was dedicated to the local picture with updates on the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Farmer Cluster approach in Darent Valley and the Darent Valley Landscape Recovery pilot.

Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent Downs AONB, the South East Rivers Trust and local farmer William Alexander provided updates on how, since 2021, farmers had come together in the valley to consider their natural capital, have benefited from being part of the pilot and from “Farming in a Protected Landscape” funding

The next steps will be to better understand the markets, metrics and reporting needed for various forms of public and private finance now available for nature-based solutions and nature recovery.

The Darent Valley Landscape Partnership is now 4 months into a 2-year development phase, paving the way for a 20-year implementation phase deliver these approaches.

As part of the day, the KNP visited nearby Preston Farm to hear from landowner Will Bax about how this area is able to contain flood water to reduce flood risk and is maintained as a wildlife rich wet meadow throughout the year.

The partnership also heard about the Quadrangle, a health and nature initiative based at nearby Castle Farm, which had brought in over five hundred hospital staff, exhausted by the Covid pandemic and in need of recovery.

In the afternoon there was a presentation on the forthcoming Kent & Medway Local Nature Recovery Strategy, which will require a similar stakeholder approach and be key to identifying areas in the county to be financed for nature-based solutions and nature recovery.

There were also presentations from Adonis Blue (KWT Consulting) and Oxbury, the agricultural bank, set up two years ago and now the fastest bank to break even in UK history.

Co-founder Tim Coates described how they are a net zero bank which funds farms developing strong carbon and biodiversity credentials. Tim is also part of a farmer cluster in Oxfordshire and a member of Oxfordshire Nature Partnership.

The meeting concluded with a useful discussion around how the approaches described throughout the day and the associated policy and finance can be taken forward in Kent and Medway.

To find our more here are links to the meeting minutes and to the presentations.

Chris Drake, KNP Coordinator

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