Damselflies and dragonflies

We are not a BNG provider

We are not a BNG provider

Watercress Farm is a site that really exemplifies the potential of rewilding. Belmont acquired the site in 2019 with the goal of restoring the degraded land through restored natural processes. From conventional pasture and former arable fields to a mix of scrub, meadow, wetland, woodland and river, a host of flora and fauna are beginning to call it home once more. Charms of goldfinch perch in the naturally regenerated trees emerging from crowns of bramble, while free-roaming Tamworth pigs roam below.

Meanwhile, the plant communities all around are transforming. Complex communities of native herbs and wildflowers are replacing the once-monocultural agricultural fields. Their deep root systems cycle nutrients and sequester carbon. Meanwhile, insect populations are beginning to flourish. Watercress Farm perfectly illustrates the rapid and lasting impact rewilding can have on biodiversity.

All of which is our way of saying whilst we sell the BNG that our nature recovery projects produce, we are not ‘a BNG provider’. At Belmont, we’re focused on long-term nature recovery. Regenerative rewilding and rewetting initiatives are what get us out of bed. We are providers of BNG because they are a natural consequence of our work. Not because we set out to create a BNG product to generate income. This means our BNG units provide value far beyond planning requirements. In contrast, ‘BNG providers’ tend to focus solely on compliance. But why should planners, developers and utilities care about that distinction?

Kids during nature education programme

Beyond biodiversity uplift

Our vision for Watercress Farm wasn’t to supply a BNG market and that is still the case today. Our vision was to help create the conditions for open-ended nature recovery. We chose the site because it represented the conventional small scale, mixed arable and livestock farm with a very low ecological baseline. These are numerous across the UK. As such, it gives us a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the potential transition to a nature positive landscape in light of the biodiversity and climate crisis.

The first task of any nature recovery project is to gather an accurate baseline of key information for the site. Baseline data includes habitat type and distribution, species recording, soil health, and water quality, and this site was no different. The fortuitous combination of an accurate record of our site pre-restoration and an ambitious, long-term vision of nature recovery put us in an ideal position to service this emerging natural capital market. So while we are seeing purpose built BNG providers popping up with projects designed to meet the new regulations, the scope of our own projects far exceeds the statutory stipulations.

Our nature recovery projects provide powerful community benefits, including access, education, and volunteering opportunities. By extension, investing in our work is an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to wider social and environmental responsibility, in tangible actions with real impact and a broad benefit that goes beyond simply complying with the new regulations.

The big idea

Maintaining a meaningful uplift in biodiversity across a 30-year lifecycle requires ecosystem restoration at a scale that works for nature. To deliver that, you need people who care deeply about habitat restoration. You also need people with experience delivering projects at large scale. This is the scale at which natural processes thrive. We believe this is a key element in realising the wider strategic goals of the new planning regulations. Through our work at Watercress Farm, we can help to prove what’s possible.

As a responsible landowner, we deliver, monitor and maintain habitat restoration. This is all overseen by Estate Manager Gil Martin and assessed by an ecologist from the Chartered Institute of Ecology.  Our work ranges from restoring wetlands to regenerating natural woodland and wild flower meadows. In total, we work across seven broad habitat types, meaning we can offer 14 BNG unit types, some of which have limited availability due to their rarity in the region.

Wildlife in rewilding project

Our BNG guarantee

Do we think BNG is perfect? No. But it’s a powerful first step in the journey towards nature recovery. But with many key details around BNG’s rollout still to emerge, it’s important to choose a partner capable of delivering robust and reliable ecological outcomes that will satisfy the strictest of planning requirements.

As experienced and committed ecosystem restoration experts with a long term vision for nature recovery, we’re happy to take on all management responsibility and liability for the 30-year term. And there are more direct benefits of working with a partner that looks beyond compliance, to responsibility and recovery.

BNG was designed to put nature at the heart of planning. Choose Belmont and you’re choosing a partner you can trust to deliver meaningful, large-scale ecosystem restoration for the next 30 years and beyond.

By supporting our projects, you contribute not just to compliance but to a vision of a greener, healthier future.