Church Commissioners for England – Natural Capital Assessment

The Church Commissioners for England is committed to having a net zero investment portfolio by 2050.  As investors, the Church Commissioners wish to better understand the ‘risks’ of their investments in rural and forestry assets – with regard to climate change and biodiversity loss – and  how ecosystem services can be a driver of value and positive impact.

Cumulus was delighted to team up with 3Keel and AECOM to deliver a ‘baseline assessment’ of the Church Commissioners’ strategic, rural and timberland portfolios to provide the client with a better understanding of their greenhouse gas emissions and natural capital assets.

The Challenge

The scope of this project was substantial. The assessment covered the Church Commissioners’  c.98,000 acres of English rural, mineral and strategic development land, and c.122,000 acres of forestry land in Scotland, Ireland, USA and Australia. The biggest challenge was bringing together a wide range of internal and external datasets of different portfolios across several countries. It is believed to be the first time a large asset owner has conducted a natural capital and greenhouse gas emissions baseline assessment on such a broad scale.

Insight and Outcomes

These types of projects require so much more than technical consultancy expertise in emissions, GIS (geographical information systems), natural capital, ecosystem services, agriculture and forestry. Clear outputs, good project management, regular communication, flexibility, professionalism and passion to deliver a project of such complexity and scale were all key to the success of the project. This required great teamwork between the project team and the client, and benefitted from the clarity provided by the Church Commissioners’ senior management and strong commitment from their rural and forestry investment teams.

The outputs of this work provided the Church Commissioners with:

  • An insight into their key sources of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • An overview of the extent and condition of the natural capital assets in their investment portfolios;
  • An understanding of the risks and opportunities related to their natural capital;
  • Recommendations for next steps.

The next stage in the sustainability journey will be to ‘co-create’ (together with the client) a natural capital strategy and monitoring framework to support the implementation of the Church Commissioners’ ambitions.

If you are interested in better understanding your natural capital assets and planning a more sustainable future, visit our dedicated Natural Capital webpage and/or contact one of our team of specialist consultants for a discussion.

“Your flexibility and ability to overcome the various challenges that arose from having a complex, fluid estate were much appreciated. We initiated this project from a standing start and your work on data and structure has set us up to make much more progress in the future“.

John Weir, Head of Real Estate, Church Commissioners for England