PO Box 2044
Durham, NC 27702
201 West Main St
Durham, NC 27701
June 19, 2023
The Conservation Finance Boot Camp, now in its 17th year, is a weeklong course that covers in-depth information on conservation financing trends and innovations. Senior Associate Jaime Silverstein attended the boot camp in early June along with professionals from conservation organizations, land trusts, foundations, investors, nonprofits, natural resource consulting groups, and government agencies.
Sessions covered a myriad of conservation funding strategies, from private capital models including equity and debt; ecosystem service markets; philanthropic grants; public funding opportunities including federal grants, ballot initiatives, and state revolving loan funds; and integrated sources leveraging many of these funding strategies.
Integrated capital or blended sources of capital are vital for conservation initiatives, where ecological and social benefits are as important as financial returns, a model reflected across Croatan Institute’s agricultural, racial equity, and climate work. There is no one-size-fits-all, and the type of capital and timeline of a transaction depend on the context of the specific project and the partners and stakeholders involved.
Partners may be involved in one conservation transaction, such as the acquisition of forested land, due to the complex nature of blended capital. This transaction may involve a variety of capital sources, such as private equity through mission-aligned investors, debt, and generation of income off the land through ecosystem services or a timber harvest. Depending on the circumstances of the sale, the timeline over which these capital sources are leveraged may vary. For example, income from the land may be used to pay back debtholders or be used in the upfront cost of the land in combination with debt and/or equity. The end buyer may be a land trust or conservation organization that may ultimately secure funding from federal grants or philanthropic capital.
However not all these sources of capital are easy to access or readily available. Government or philanthropic funding may take time to secure, whereas private capital may be mobilized more quickly. This poses a ripe opportunity for mission-aligned private capital to support conservation projects by being able to be more flexible and timely to preserve vulnerable ecologically sensitive land.
Source: Conservation Finance Network