Projects aimed at halting ‘alarming decline’ in species receive share of £25m

Projects that aim to restore saltmarshes, hedgerows and heathlands and halt the “alarming decline” in species are receiving a share of £25 million from the Government.

The Environment Department (Defra) said 20 projects will be given up to £3 million in grants to create or restore nature-rich landscapes across England, including schemes run by wildlife charities, farmers and community groups.

The projects will support more than 3,300 hectares of critical habitats for species like lapwings and dragonflies – a total area equivalent to the size of York.

Among the projects is one by Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, which will receive £1.7 million to restore chalk rivers and create 49 hectares of wetland habitat across Hertfordshire.

The project aims to provide natural flood management and help to stop the decline of more than 109 different species such as water voles – the UK’s fastest declining mammal.

Groundwork Greater Manchester will receive £1.1 million to restore a range of grassland, riverbank, wetland and woodland habitats across the Medlock Valley, which will support species like willow tits, waxcaps and rare great crested newts.

The project will also work with volunteers to connect local communities to nature as part of their everyday lives.

And £1.5 million will be awarded to support a partnership in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This project will aim to restore chalk stream habitats, enhance wet woodlands, and improve chalk grasslands as well as plant a new flower-rich pasture, supporting pollinators and insects.

The grants, which are being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of Defra, come as part of Government efforts to achieve its target to protect 30% of land for nature by 2030.

Eilish McGuinness, chief executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Defra again to distribute funding for these projects, which will support nature recovery by helping to boost the quality and quantity of wildlife-rich habitats across England.

“This partnership will further our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The funding awarded today as part of our flagship Species Survival Fund will enable local authorities, landowners, farmers, and our protected landscapes organisations to restore nature at scale and provide valuable green jobs in the process.

“Only by creating bigger and better habitats for wildlife will we be able to halt the alarming decline in species.

“This fund will be a key plank in achieving our legally binding targets to halt species loss and protect 30% land for nature by 2030.”

Defra said the Species Survival Fund builds on the work of previous initiatives like the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which helped to create jobs in nature recovery and conservation as the UK emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.

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