Green Pages

Investment and Nature Working Together

New Natural Capital Investment Plan to launch this summer.

By Andy Tetlow, International Biodiversity Officer, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

The environmental landscape of the Turks & Caicos Islands plays a vital role in the country’s tourism-focused economy, providing “ecosystem services” that have a significant impact on communities across TCI. 

What are ecosystem services, you may ask? This term describes all the direct and indirect benefits that nature provides for humans. For example, healthy mangrove forests provide flood protection to coastal communities. This is a particularly important ecosystem service in a time of increasingly challenging weather patterns.

The precious pine forests of North Caicos are not only a testament to environmental resilience, but an example of how natural capital value includes the mental health that eco-systems provide to humans.

These ecosystem services are provided by what is called “natural capital.” Natural capital includes all the elements of nature, both living (plants, animals, etc.) and non-living (bodies of water, minerals, etc.). Each of these elements has a value—whether it is the market value marine ecosystems provide by supporting the tourism and fishing industries, or a non-market value such as the improved mental and physical health in a community that has access to outdoor recreation spaces.

However, natural capital and the services it provides face many threats, including overfishing, pollution of the land and sea, unsustainable development, and climate change. We need to find a balance between environmental resilience and human activities to ensure long term stability for both the community and the environment.

To tackle these challenges, Finance Earth and eftec have been commissioned to develop a Natural Capital Investment Plan (NCIP) aimed at identifying new natural capital income opportunities. The NCIP aims to identify opportunities to generate investment that protects and restores ecosystems while creating value for local communities. This work is part of a project being delivered by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR), TCI Fishing Cooperative, TCI National Trust, and Invest TCI. The project is supported by the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) Programme. 

The NCIP is being developed based on an extensive stakeholder engagement programme as well as data from various local businesses, community leaders, government, and other stakeholders across the Islands. The NCIP presents an important opportunity for TCI’s conservation efforts while taking a pragmatic approach, emphasising real world results. It will provide a framework to support the creation of new jobs, boost the local economy, and bolster the resilience of the Islands’ ecosystems. This approach ensures that local communities and businesses are fully involved in the plan’s implementation, with their unique needs and priorities considered.

One of the key benefits of the NCIP is its potential to enhance both the local economy and the natural environment. The NCIP will identify new natural capital income opportunities that could lead to job creation across various sectors, such as ecotourism, conservation, sustainable fishing, and agriculture. These new opportunities will seek to strengthen the local economy through diversification as well as making it more resilient to disruption from future crises, such as pandemics, natural disasters, and changing weather patterns.

The NCIP will also provide a framework for the sustainable financing of projects to protect and restore the country’s natural capital. This could potentially include grant funding to encourage the development of early-stage projects, as well as access to commercial or concessionary financing for larger, more mature projects. The NCIP aims to provide an aligned approach to aggregation and management of funding to support the spectrum of natural capital investment and governance needs in TCI. 

An example of ecosystem services is the flood protection mangrove forests provide to coastal communities.

The opportunities for investment in the protection and enhancement of TCI’s natural capital assets are broad-based and far reaching. One example is within the restoration and protection of coral reefs, which are vital for TCI’s tourism industry, supporting world-class snorkelling and diving opportunities, while also supporting essential species that significantly contribute to marine biodiversity and local fishing activity. By protecting and restoring the coral reefs, the NCIP aims to ensure that these ecosystems continue to support the tourism industry, which contributes to around 70% of TCI’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

When will this all happen? Stay tuned to our social media channels for details of the launch event, which will take place in TCI in May 2024. We will share further details on the event and look forward to working with you to help ensure a bright and prosperous future for the communities, plants, animals, and landscapes of these treasured islands.

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South Caicos was once a major exporter of salt harvested from its extensive salinas. Award-winning Master and Craftsman Photographer James Roy of Paradise Photography ( created this vertical composition by assembling a series of six images captured by a high-definition drone which was a half a mile away from his position.

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