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 one County Council to date to implement nature-based solutions (NBS) that will improve the resilience of the local environment.
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 including resilient agricultural supply chains, flood risk mitigation, water quality improvements, GHG emissions reduction, carbon sequestration and an increase in agricultural land managed in a more ‘regenerative’ way. Since trade one, the East of England LENs community has grown to include Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Cargill, Cereal Partners UK, Essex and Suffolk Water, Nestlé Purina Petcare and West Northamptonshire Council. Now well into trade 2022 negotiations, this consortium is again working with farmers to co-procure ecosystem service outcomes to help them meet their strategic and operational needs. The value of this second trade is expected to significantly exceed last year’s trade, at an estimated £2.5 million, while the number of farmers involved has more than doubled.
The East of England LENs has succeeded in establishing common landscape goals between diverse businesses across a wide geographic area. In doing so these early trades have exemplified how LENs can connect actors through the identification of shared interests and needs across regions. Given the success of the East of England LENs over a relatively short amount of time, we are excited to see how it will continue to evolve.