East of England

Expanding networks to scale LENs delivery

The East of England accounts for 15% of England’s total land area, supporting diverse habitats as well as a growing urban population. However, the area is at increasing risk of flooding, sea level rise and water scarcity, which has significant potential to impact business operations, livelihoods and wellbeing. These risks are particularly pertinent to the agricultural sector due to the importance of food production in this region. To address this, LENs has brought together a growing trading community of food manufacturers, water companies and a County Council to implement nature-based solutions (NbS) that are improving the local environment’s resilience.
Through LENs, funders have invested in measures to achieve carbon reduction and sequestration, flood risk mitigation, soil regeneration, biodiversity and habitat creation, water quality improvements and resilient supply chains.

In 2021, East of England LENs contracted its first set of annual transactions for nature-based solutions. The trade was valued at £1 million with four organisations, Nestlé Purina Petcare, Cereal Partners UK, West Northamptonshire Council and Anglian Water co-investing in NbS to achieve outcomes.

Since the first trade, the East of England LENs community has grown to include Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Camgrain, Cargill, Cefetra, Cereal Partners UK, Charles Jackson & Co, Chilton Grain, Frontier Agriculture, Nene Rivers Trust, Nestlé Purina, NFU Sugar, Openfield Agriculture, PepsiCo and West Northamptonshire Council. The long-term aim is to create a self-financing programme, with a small percentage of each trade funding the Resilient Landscapes East of England Community Interest Company (CIC) that has been set up as a regional delivery organisation to convene the supply and demand sides, facilitate transactions and build the pipeline of trades to maximise the scale and accelerate the rate of trading opportunities.
The 2023 trade saw £3.9 million invested in 23 different types of regenerative measures, with more than 100 farms involved across the region, covering a total of 16,324 hectares worth of measures. The most popular include:

Reduced cultivation systems (reduced/no till cultivations), which can retain soil surface organic matter, preserve good soil structure and fertility, resulting in soil conditions that improve water infiltration rates and reduce risk of loss of particulate P and sediment.

Farmer innovations: in-field, capital and/or infrastructure innovations and trials, such as direct drills, soil sampling, and a new fertiliser applicator.

Year-long fallow with cover crops: reduces nutrient loss, improves soil fertility, reduces nitrate leaching, improves soil structure, counteracts compaction, and helps protect soils from erosion, and can provide short-term suppression of weeds. A year-long fallow with cover crops offers greater scope to introduce seed mixes with multiple benefits and reduces the need for pesticides and fertiliser.

Winter cover crops: protect soils from erosion and reduce nutrient leaching and runoff. They intercept and reduce the impact of rainfall and store nitrogen. When the cover crop is destroyed in spring, some of the nitrogen feeds the spring crop, reducing fertiliser requirements. Cover crops also provide carbon sequestration and improve biodiversity.

Planting new native broadleaf woodland to: improve biodiversity; create habitats; sequester carbon; reduce run-off; improve infiltration; retain water in the landscape and improve flood mitigation.

Measurement, Reporting & Verification

In 2023, a Measurement, Reporting and Verification pilot is being run by 3Keel’s MRV team. Soil Association Exchange, Trinity Agtech and Agricarbon are supporting farmers to collect data, which will be used to track progress against targets, measure the impact of investments, and provide a clear picture of farms’ sustainability.

To learn more or get involved, please use our contact form here

At a glance

Where East of England
Who Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Cargill, Cereal Partners UK, Essex and Suffolk Water, Nestlé Purina Petcare and West Northamptonshire Council
What The first trade has been valued at £1 million, with trade-two expected to be significantly larger

Download the East of England factfile here for more information.

Key partners