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  • Nicoleta Talpes

Climate Change Champions Spotlight - interview with Cain Blythe

The ecological education platform is a partner of the Climate Change Summit, the first and largest event in Central and Eastern Europe dedicated to climate change, and brings to the public's attention a series of interviews with key guests of the Climate Change Summit, an editorial extension called Climate Change Champions Spotlight.

In the Spotlight: interview with Cain Blythe, CEO & Founder of CreditNature & Ecosulis

Can you tell us more about your specific role in advancing the mission to rewild half the planet by 2050 and the actions you're taking to contribute to this ambitious goal?

I am founder and CEO of two organizations, Ecosulis and CreditNature. Ecosulis, is the first business in the UK to set rewilding as its purpose, and first globally to state the ambition of ‘Rewilding half the planet by 2050’. I support our teams to deliver a range of rewilding projects and services, including working with land owners and communities to prepare viable rewilding strategies, helping farmers transition from intensive to regenerative agricultural practices, as well as undertake the practical delivery of activities such as ecosystem restoration (active rewilding). All of this work has the aim of restoring biodiversity and ecosystems, and at the same time help communities to prosper, even in the face of the combined climate and biodiversity crises.

CreditNature, was developed by the Ecosulis Innovation team led by Dr. Paul Jepson (who is now Head of Innovation and Science in CreditNature) who commenced the development in 2018. We then spun out CreditNature in 2022 with the aim of it becoming the worlds first end to end nature fintech platform. The CreditNature system has been designed to unlock nature positive investment opportunities, connecting private investors with verified ecosystem recovery projects. The system can be used globally and uses advanced analytics and digital assets, such as Nature Impact Tokens, to provide transparent and accessible rewilding solutions that boost biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. We also offer a breakthrough assessment framework called NARIA (Natural Asset Recovery Investment Analytics), which translates key attributes of ecosystem integrity into metrics that reliably measure and forecast ecosystem recovery linked to land management commitments. These metrics can then be used by corporates to disclose and report their nature positive impact.

In addition to this I am co-author, alongside Dr. Paul Jepson, of the book ‘Rewilding – the radical new science of ecological recovery’ and we have published this book throughout the world, included an illustrated version and French translated edition. We present the science in this book to many audiences and contribute to a range of articles, papers, conferences and webinars.

Rewilding often requires collaboration. Could you share some of your successful collaborations and projects that have played a part in moving closer to the mission of rewilding half the planet by 2050?

CreditNature and Ecosulis partner with many organisations to achieve these goals and our aim is to accelerate global rewilding by providing practical, scalable, and high-impact nature-based solutions that can generate multiple benefits for society and build climate resilience. We are now working with organisations based in Europe, Africa, and South east Asia, and have ambition to expand into different regions in the coming years. One of our most recent and exciting collaborations, is with the Drumadoon Estate on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, where we have co-developed ambitious rewilding plans that include the restoration of Atlantic temperate rainforest, alongside the creation of wetland features and the return of an ancient breed of cattle. This work is supported by Scotland the Big Picture and we have a corporate partner interested in investing in biodiversity credits in Q1 of 2024, as a means to support the delivery of these benefits.

In fact, throughout Scotland we have many similar projects and collaborations, as a result of a £500,000 pre-commercial agreement with the Scottish Government, NatureScot and other organisations that wish to support nature recovery and rewilding projects throughout the country. As a result of this investment we will be collaborating with partners in the public, private and eNGO sector to build the first internationally applicable voluntary biodiversity credit market, using our NARIA framework and Nature Impact Tokens as a means to achieve this. This model is now being rolled out into Denmark and we are working closely with our partners Dalberg in Africa to explore a similar system.

How do you harness technology and finance in your efforts to support ecosystem conservation and recovery, and how does your approach align with the broader goal of rewilding?

Technology and finance are two key enablers of rewilding that can help scale up and accelerate the benefits to society of ecosystem recovery. There is a huge necessity and opportunity to get this right. For instance, PwC have reported that 58% of global GDP is either highly or moderately dependent on nature; however, we would suggest that we are in fact 100% dependent on nature, as without it civilization can’t exist. Whilst this figure may seem daunting, the investment need is not that great, with only 1% of global GDP annually needed to help nature recover, leading to greater climate resilience, as well as the recovery of biodiversity. Due to the dependencies of so many businesses on nature, such a small investment must be worth the tiny impact on profitability, as this will secure sustainable growth for businesses, alongside the recovery of the planet. This understanding is why we developed the CreditNature platform – to provide a technological solution to enable the scaling investment in rewilding.

Our platform harnesses technology in various ways, such as using drones, satellites, sensors and cameras to collect and analyze data on biodiversity and ecosystem data; presenting evidence in simple to understand dashboards that visualize and communicate the value of nature; and applying blockchain technology to create digital assets that offer a high integrity method for evidencing the impact of investments in rewilding.

We are currently working directly with a number of corporates interested in such an financing solution, as well as asset managers, banks and government agencies to ensure that such investments are both fit for finance as well as fit for nature.

What do you see as the primary challenges in your role to help achieve the mission of rewilding half the planet by 2050, and what strategies are you employing to overcome these challenges?

One of the primary challenges in my role is to overcome the barriers and resistance that exist in the current system that is dominated by unsustainable land use practices, policies, and mindsets. Rewilding is often perceived as a radical or risky approach that threatens the status quo or conflicts with existing interests or values. For example, some landowners may be reluctant to adopt rewilding practices because they fear losing income or control over their land; some policymakers may be hesitant to support rewilding policies because they lack evidence or incentives; some consumers may be unaware or indifferent to the impact of their choices on nature; some educators may be unfamiliar or unprepared to teach about rewilding; some researchers may be skeptical or critical of rewilding science. However, many of these concerns are unfounded, or can be addressed with favorable outcomes for all.

To overcome these challenges, I employ various strategies that aim to address the root causes of these barriers and resistance. I do this through building trust and collaboration with stakeholders, ensuring sufficient dialogue, consultation, co-design, co-delivery, co-evaluation, and co-learning. Demonstration projects are a really powerful way to showcase the benefits of a rewilding approach and this can be combined with scientific evidence and information, alongside robust data, metrics and testimonials. Within the models we have developed at CreditNature we have designed a system that includes people at the heart of everything we do and this creates incentives and opportunities to generate new forms of income associated with regenerative agriculture and nature-based enterprise. Such a strategy demonstrates to all stakeholders that rewilding offers one of the most viable nature-based solutions to the global crises we face.

As someone actively involved in advancing the rewilding movement, what guidance or suggestions do you have for others who want to join in and contribute to this mission of restoring biodiversity and resilience on a global scale?

My guidance or suggestions for others who want to join in and contribute to this mission are to learn more about rewilding by reading up on the many benefits of this approach, and also engage in the stories of hope and purpose that can be found in articles, books, and reports on rewilding. You can start with our book, Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery, which we specifically wrote with the aim of providing an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the concept and practice of rewilding.

There are now many organizations that are involved in rewilding projects and some great examples throughout Romania and many other European countries. You can find out about this projects via organizations or networks involved, such as those promoted by Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Britain, for example.

There is also plenty that can be done at a personal level by taking action, such as choosing nature-friendly products or services, reducing your ecological footprint, planting native trees or flowers, creating wildlife habitats in your garden or balcony, removing barriers to species movement (e.g. fences and weirs) or even simply donating or just spending more time in nature, enjoying its beauty and benefits and sharing this with your friends and family.

About Cain Blythe

Cain Blythe is a Chartered Environmentalist and an award-winning leader in ecosystem restoration and nature recovery. He is the founder and CEO of two pioneering organisations leading the drive to help accelerate global rewilding. His expertise merges applied ecosystem practice, technology, finance and the recognition that the best outcomes are achieved through partnership and collaboration.

With a career spanning over three decades, Cain has integrated his expertise in biodiversity and habitat management to unlock the full potential of rewilding, as one of the most viable nature-based solutions available today. His journey began working in zoological parks in the UK and Australia and he studied at Southampton and Surrey Universities, leading to key roles in organisations such as Jacobs Engineering Ltd, Ecosulis, and now, CreditNature. Cain is instrumental in leading initiatives that merge technology and finance with nature recovery efforts, pushing boundaries within the sector.

Cain’s accomplishments have placed him at the forefront of environmental thought leadership, demonstrated by his co-authorship of Rewilding alongside Dr Paul Jepson. His practical expertise in the planning and delivery of many impactful habitat creation projects, species reintroductions and ecosystem scale management strategies, underscores his contribution to the field. As well as being a full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, his contributions have led to him being recognised as one of the UKs 100 most influential environmentalists in 2022, a LinkedIn Top Voice in the UK and finalist for Environmental Professional of the Year in 2023.

Dedicated to accelerating global rewilding, Cain’s mission is nothing short of ambitious: to rewild half the planet by 2050. His commitment to this vision is evident in his pragmatic and transformative approaches to ecosystem conservation and recovery. He actively bridges the gap between the practical and theoretical aspects of rewilding, using technology and finance as catalysts for achieving ecological balance and resilience.

Cain Blythe’s clear commitment to the sector, experience, innovative thinking, and profound commitment to ecological recovery have established him as a leader in his field. His transformative approach to blending finance and technology in conservation, along with his commitment to global rewilding, make him a highly influential figure in the sphere of nature-positive finance. His relentless pursuit of his mission, to restore biodiversity and resilience on a global scale, continues to inspire thousands of people and make a significant impact on our world.

The ecological education platform is a partner of this initiative and brings to the public's attention a series of interviews with key guests of the Climate Change Summit, an editorial extension called Climate Change Champions Spotlight. Interview conducted by Nicoleta Talpeș, Guerrilla Verde.

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