Highland estate to generate biodiversity credits with SLR and RePlanet

SLR and RePlanet have designed a biodiversity credit project for around 20km2/2000ha of an unnamed Scottish Highland estate. The aim is to create a land management plan which delivers positive outcomes for biodiversity alongside the delivery of commodities such as timber.

The land has diverse geology and habitats, from improved grazing and commercial forestry, to alpine heath, bog, calcareous grassland and native woodland.

An SLR spokesperson said, “We were asked to design an approach to biodiversity baselining in line with the Wallacea Trust/RePlanet methodology to be implemented across the whole estate, including areas such as commercial afforestation where biodiversity losses may be expected, to avoid any risk of greenwashing or selective monitoring (cherry picking). The approach taken therefore involves monitoring areas where biodiversity gains are anticipated as well as areas where losses may occur.”

Max Bodmer, biodiversity project manager at credit developer RePlanet said, “We’ve been working with SLR for a few years on an advisory level. They were quite ahead of the curve.”

“There’s going to be peatland management. They’re going to be doing quite a lot of natural regeneration. They’re quite innovative, they want to be testing out as many different routes to monetising natural capital as they possibly can.”

For a UK landscape it’s a relatively biodiverse area; it’s complex in terms of its habitat composition so it’s going to be good for biodiversity.”

Following the RePlanet guidance, metrics have been selected that are relevant to the ecosystem services that would be influenced by the proposed changes in land management, including native and commercial afforestation and reduced grazing.

In addition, these metrics were selected so the main components of the food chain (trophic levels) are represented, including decomposers, plants (primary producers), herbivores (primary consumers) and carnivores (secondary/tertiary consumers).

The taxonomic units chosen for each metric (e.g. breeding birds) all have a large number of species with potential to respond to changes in habitat type and quality. This is important for a calculation approach based on the number and abundance of species and their conservation value.

Field methods were designed to be cost-effective and repeatable/comparable in both in current and future habitats, with sampling points stratified to reflect the distribution of habitats and expected habitat transitions. This included, for example, comparison of the costs and scientific merits of traditional field surveys compared to approaches such as DNA metabarcoding and acoustic recorders. Where practical, and following suitable training, estate staff have been involved, including with data collection.

Data collection for baseline unit calculation is nearing completion and the project is expected to go through independent peer review via the Biodiversity Future Initiative in 2024. This will provide a clear baseline of the current biodiversity value across the estate against which the benefits of implementing the land biodiversity enhancement plan can be measured.

SLR said, “We are expecting the application of this and similar approaches to biodiversity quantification to become increasingly mainstream both for biodiversity credit projects and potentially corporate biodiversity monitoring reporting (e.g. in line with TNFD). Especially as approaches to reducing monitoring costs are rapidly emerging.”


Support a practical, investable and inclusive narrative for land use.

Sign-up to receive our newsletter

Newsletter Signup
Contribute for just £2.50 per week
Skip to content