A royal visit to Groundswell

We look back on our visit to Groundswell Festival. Attended by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh and many others wanting to know more about environmental markets
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CLA staff alongside Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh (fourth from right)

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh, Patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations, joined CLA Deputy President Victoria Vyvyan at the Groundswell Festival in Hertfordshire this week. The festival was also attended by Environment Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey.

The Duchess, who attended the festival at the invitation of the CLA, enjoyed a busy day meeting farmers from across the country who are at the forefront of regenerative agriculture.

Groundswell is a hub for farmers at the cutting edge of land management, and we were delighted that The Duchess joined us to discuss how regenerative techniques can produce food in a way that actively improves the environment

CLA Deputy President Victoria Vyvyan

Also at the festival, Victoria chaired a fascinating panel discussion on environmental markets alongside Helen Edmundson (Deputy Director of Green Finance and Green Recovery at Defra), Gavin Fauvel (Rural Estates Director at Gascoyne Estates) and William Hawes (Head of Nature Based Solutions at the National Parks Partnership).

Held in the festival’s Grass Tent, the conversation was well attended by both land managers and rural professionals. The discussion focussed on how enterprises can work collaboratively to make environmental markets work for them, a topic which was echoed across much of the Groundswell event: the need to work together to navigate change, share experience and learn from one other.

During the event, Helen Edmundson outlined the work Defra has been doing to bring order to nature markets and make them work for land managers of all sizes. Defra’s Green Finance Team have released several important reports over the last few years, including the Nature Markets Framework, Financing Nature’s Recovery and the Dasgupta Review, all focussed on bringing order to nature markets. They are working with stakeholders to look at how nature markets can be made to work for multi-functional land.

Gavin Fauvel meanwhile discussed his experience with the Environmental Farmers Group, which he described as ‘tinder for natural capital markets’. The co-operative is designed to help farmers understand natural capital markets and make informed decisions, while sharing the benefits across the group.

And finally William Hawes outlined the work done so far on Revere’s project with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The project is an investigation into how ELMS can work alongside private finance to incentivise farmers to use their land in a more sustainable way.

Questions from the audience reflected the mood of the room – curious and cautiously optimistic, while CLA Deputy President Victoria Vyvyan stressed that although big questions about nature markets remain, the crucial exploration work is happening.

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Victoria Vyvyan alongside Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh (right)