Saturday 18 May 2024


In late 2021/early 2022 we headed off in a new direction. After decades of working in community groups, stakeholder groups and social environmentalism we changed tack in light of the new tail winds in nature conservation promoting private nature conservation and natural capital (fundamentally as a result of the phenomenal success of private rewilding projects and post-EU exit green finance initiatives). The aim was to buy land and set up private nature reserves so we set ourselves the aim to buy a 5-10 acre homestead in the UK by around 2026 and to develop our Bulgaria project where we already owned about one acre and planned to expand there. We therefore started an investment drive to raise about £2 million HERE . 

Things did not at all go to plan and a few months into 2022 interest rates started soaring rendering borrowing to invest largely unprofitable, I discovered quite soon that  I was pretty useless at investing in green stocks and shares and at the beginning of 2023 we were faced with eviction from the family home as a result of death taxes being due following a sad bereavement. So scraping together money from the sale of the family home and some successful investments we were pretty much forced to bring our homestead plans forward but scale down the ambition. 

So instead of a ten acre private nature reserve, yesterday we completed on about an acre homestead on the Selsey Peninsula about 5 minutes from Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve. So a lot smaller than we originally hoped for and a lot sooner too. After visiting today to get some balls rolling we are seeing out our tenancy agreement in Oxfordshire for the next two weeks while the builders go in to refurbish and plan to move in in early June. 

So even though its small we are super excited about our bite size project and plan to create a wonderful private mini-nature reserve. It should actually be quite manageable on the pretty small budget that we have.  Hopefully we can aim for scale at our Bulgaria site where land is much cheaper as we hope eventually  to own enough 'natural capital' to be a nature and carbon positive family. I think we have something like a 40 tonne a year family carbon footprint (average UK person has a 10 tonne carbon footprint per year), the equivalent of needing to own something like an excess of 3200 mature trees which store one tonne of carbon over 100 years (or the equivalent in grassland, wetland etc) to mitigate for say an average life span of 76 - 80 years. That's why we need something like 10 acres or so. So far we got about 2 acres here and at the Bulgaria project. So a long way to go yet but not a bad start.  

Here's a few photos of the new project site and watch this space to see how it unfolds. Hopefully not too many more disasters on the way! Really looking forward to having Pagham Harbour as my new local birding patch (I have desperately missed having a birding patch) and already re-structuring work and family stuff so that I can get at least one day or two days out in the field again. Really excited about that and especially finally having a decent patch on the coast. 

There's a nice sized space in the main back garden to do some nice wildlife gardening . Will be a lot of fun designing and planting this up to maximise biodiversity but will also need to consider adequate wild play area for the boys. We should be able to plant several hundred hedging trees along all the borders and plant several specimen trees . 
We are planning to do a mini eco-tourism project on this part of the site which is to the side of the property
The front garden already has a wet ditch so are planning water themed wildlife gardening here

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