On Tuesday 26 March, CEE member Lydia Cole attended the 12th Meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on Net Zero, Energy and Transport, as an invited witness to give evidence on the opportunities and impacts of natural capital finance in the Scottish context. In this session, Lydia presented findings from the StAIRS project “Community priorities in peatland restoration” led together with CEE Postdoctoral Fellow Cornelia Helmcke. Co-investigators were CEE member Shona Russell (School of Management), Milinda Banerjee (School of History), Bobby Macaulay (UHI-CLAN) and Ewan Jenkins (SGSD).

Dr Lydia Cole (second from left) presenting to the Committee on Net Zero, Energy and Transport alongside Dr Naomi Beingessner (James Hutton Institute), Dr Josh Doble (Community Land Scotland), and Jo Pike (Scottish Wildlife Trust). Fellow Project Lead Dr Cornelia Helmcke can also be seen in the back attending as an observer.

On her invitation, Dr Cole said, “It was such a privilege to have the opportunity to present insights from our research to MSPs, who lack the time to keep up with such a rapidly evolving, complex and interconnected topic such as the real-world workings of natural capital finance.”

“The experience made me realise what a key role academics can play in providing evidence to help MSPs to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of policies and, hopefully, push forward changes. It also made me appreciate the importance of research integrity: whose voices was I representing, and did I do them justice? I hope so!”

The first set of witnesses (principally representing private landowners across Scotland) focused on the importance of private finance for nature restoration and the achievement of net zero goals/climate change mitigation; the second set of witnesses (from Community Land Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and researchers) focused on the current challenges of the focus on private finance for achieving these goals.

You can watch the session (from 10:48 for the second set of witnesses) and catch up on all episodes of Scottish Parliament TV here or read the full written submission here.