New funding for 12 high-impact projects to help tackle the climate crisis

The Wildlife Trusts unveil new nature recovery projects – restoring peatlands, saltmarsh, kelp forests, chalk grassland, wetlands and woods – to store carbon

Today, a raft of new projects designed to help the UK tackle the climate and nature emergency is announced by The Wildlife Trusts. They focus on employing nature-based solutions to increase carbon storage while restoring habitats on land and at sea.

The 12 schemes include:

  • a pioneering collaboration to improve huge tracts of fragmented wetlands across four neighbouring counties in England and Wales – paving the way for the reintroduction of beavers.
  • restoring precious peatland habitats across Cumbria, Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Somerset
  • expanding saltmarsh restoration along the Essex coast

The projects, which will help the UK achieve its ambition of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, are able to move forward thanks to almost £2 million in funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

In other areas, new seagrass habitats will be planted in the Solent, fragmented woodlands will be restored and connected throughout Derbyshire, habitat features to protect temperature-sensitive chalk grassland butterflies in Bedfordshire will be created, and support will be given to a pioneering project to restore a kelp forest off the Sussex coast.

As the UK gears up to hosting the UN climate conference COP 26 in November, The Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 46 nature charities – are delivering on-the-ground, natural solutions to ensure the UK plays its part in tackling the interlinked climate and nature crises.

The restoration of the natural world is fundamental to realising the ambition to restrict global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Nature can be our biggest ally in limiting global temperature rises, but we have to give it a huge helping hand. We need to cut emissions at source to fight climate change – and we can also have a big impact by restoring nature because wilder places lock-up carbon.

“That means repairing the amazing habitats in our seas, rewetting peatlands, dramatically changing how we manage farmland, rewilding landscapes, and bringing back habitats that have been lost.

“Crucially, we need to fund projects that get results. Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re delighted to move forward with these 12 high-impact schemes, which will help to bring nature back and store carbon – both on land and at sea.”

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, says:

“We’re delighted funding raised by our players is helping The Wildlife Trusts restore habitats across the country that play a key role in accumulating and storing carbon. By helping nature thrive, these ambitious projects offer solutions to the challenges we face from climate change so these landscapes and the wildlife there can be enjoyed by future generations.

“Players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting these projects as part of our Postcode Climate Challenge initiative, which is providing 12 charities with an additional £24 million in funding for initiatives tackling climate change this year.”

The diversity of the 12 projects reflects the vast and varied ways nature can help to tackle climate change. They also show how the UK can become a world leader in transforming its land and seas to lock in carbon and bring wildlife back as well.

The projects are:

  1. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust – creating habitat features to help temperature-sensitive butterflies
  2. Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire Wildlife Trusts – restoring fragmented wetlands, paving the way to bring back beavers
  3. Cumbria Wildlife Trust – peatland repair and sphagnum moss farming
  4. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – woodland creation and restoration in the Derwent Valley
  5. Devon Wildlife Trust – creating a site to demonstrate nature-based solutions
  6. Essex Wildlife Trust – expanding saltmarsh restoration
  7. Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – seagrass restoration in the Solent
  8. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust – creating a nature recovery network
  9. Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust – natural flood management across a river catchment
  10. Somerset Wildlife Trust – survey work to enable lowland peatland restoration
  11. Sussex Wildlife Trust – working with local communities to restore a kelp forest
  12. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – the restoration of the Great North Bog

Please see Editor’s Notes for project details.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been supporting The Wildlife Trusts since 2008 and have raised over £15 million to date. Funding has helped The Wildlife Trusts to protect wild places and wildlife, provide opportunities for children to explore nature, create outdoor learning areas, and empower people of all ages to help wildlife in their daily lives.

Editor's notes

The Wildlife Trusts’ case studies

  1. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust – creating habitat features to help temperature-sensitive butterflies

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust is working with the University of Cambridge to mitigate the impacts of climate change for temperature sensitive butterflies. The project – which is the first of its kind – will see topographical features created in chalk grassland to provide suitable niches within existing habitat even as the climate changes. By creating variable topography on flatter reserve areas, conservationists hope to help butterflies including the small blue, the chalkhill blue, and the nationally rare Duke of Burgundy. Researchers will record and analyse data to determine the success of the scheme, which may then be mirrored at other sites. Protecting and boosting the abundance of insects is central to restoring functioning ecosystems, which are so critical to tackling the climate crisis.

  1. Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire Wildlife Trust – restoring fragmented wetlands, paving the way to bring back beavers

A pioneering collaboration between three Wildlife Trusts is aiming to reverse the significant loss of wetlands and lowland peatlands across the Meres and Mosses. The project, which is seen as the first of its kind, will enable landscape scale reintroduction of the ultimate wetland engineer, the beaver. Funding will enable Wildlife Trusts for Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire to carry out ecological and hydrological surveys at three sites, leading to expected reintroductions of beavers on peat soils in 2022. Beavers are renowned for improving the hydrological function of landscapes. They create dams which reduce flooding downstream, forming a range of specialist habitats and, crucially, ensuring peatlands stay wet which keeps carbon in the ground.

  1. Cumbria Wildlife Trust – peatland repair and sphagnum moss farming

New support will help Cumbria Wildlife Trust achieve its long-term vision of creating a vast nature reserve within South Lakeland. The project involves reconnecting existing fragmented lowland raised bogs to create a wetland habitat covering more than 1300 hectares. This includes restoring vast swatches of deep peat - currently used for agriculture - to lowland raised bogs. Funds will also help Cumbria Wildlife Trust establish the county’s first paludiculture project to grow sphagnum moss. These special mosses hold up to 20 times their weight in water, keeping the bogs wet and providing the perfect conditions for the formation of peat.

  1. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – woodland creation and restoration in the Derwent Valley

Funding will help Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to restore fragmented woodland habitats along the Derwent Valley. Planting new woodlands and connecting existing areas could enable the reintroduction of species including pine marten and red squirrel. Teams will identify and map out areas where planting could benefit water quality, reduce risks from flooding, and create wildlife corridors. They will work with landowners to demonstrate the potential for Derwent Valley to play a central role in nature’s recovery across the county.

  1. Devon Wildlife Trust – creating a site to demonstrate nature-based solutions

Devon Wildlife Trust will create a centre for seeing Nature-Based Solutions in action at Woodah Farm. The project aims to show how nature can help to reverse the impacts of intensive farming, creating healthier, more diverse landscapes that support biodiversity, lock in carbon, and produce food as well. It hopes to achieve this by revitalising soil health and function, restoring habitat diversity, species diversity and abundance, maximising vegetative carbon sequestration, and creating a net carbon sink through different livestock systems, and changes to type of livestock used for grazing.

  1. Essex Wildlife Trust – expanding saltmarsh restoration

Essex Wildlife Trust is scaling up a cost-effective and easily replicable restoration technique to restore and protect the UK’s saltmarshes. The project began in 2018 and involves installing coir structures within selected creeks to encourage sediment accumulation and plant growth, protecting the saltmarsh habitat. Saltmarshes provide ecosystem services such as reducing flood risks and the effects of storm surges, as well as acting as a massive carbon sink. Over the last 25 years, approximately 1000 hectares of this vital habitat has been lost.

  1. Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – seagrass restoration in the Solent

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Boskalis Westminster, is restoring seagrass in the Solent. Marine wildlife experts and volunteers will collect seagrass seed and process it in preparation for planting, using hessian seed bags which are then deployed in the field to help restore the seagrass habitat. The project will create a wilder Solent supporting increased biodiversity and sustainable fisheries, promoting greater ecosystem services, cleaner water, and creating a natural carbon solution to tackle climate change. The project is being closely monitored so lessons learnt can help replicate the technique at scale within the Solent region and beyond. Seagrasses can capture carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, and account for 10% of the ocean’s total burial of carbon – despite covering less than 0.2% of the ocean floor.

  1. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust – creating a nature recovery network

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is working with farmers to help create a nature recovery network, improving soil health, reducing dependence on fertilisers, and improving the quality of watercourses. Funding will also help revert seven hectares to herb-rich leys, which contain a diverse mix of at least 5 species of grass, 5 legumes and 5 herbs. The land has been strategically chosen as it will help connect areas that are already protected, providing greater continuous habitats for pollinators and farmland birds. The project aims to show how nature-based solutions are as commercially viable as existing farming enterprises, and how arable reversion can capture carbon and dramatically reduce water pollution.

  1. Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust – natural flood management across a river catchment

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is designing a range of nature-based interventions, including flood attenuation ponds, leaky dams, rewetting of wetlands, and woodland creation, in the Limb sub-catchment to slow and store water, create wildlife habitats, and improve water quality. The project is run in partnership with the Environment Agency and Sheffield City Council, and is working with farmers, landowners, and local communities. It has citizen science at its heart and will share stories of people taking part, enjoying nature and contributing scientific data to inform future decision making.

  1. Somerset Wildlife Trust – survey work to enable lowland peatland restoration

Somerset Wildlife Trust is aquiring Honeygar Farm in 2021, which will become a flagship site to promote and practice nature-based solutions (NBS) across the county. Funding will enable ecological surveys of the farmland, and develop long-term monitoring plans for carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity. The money will kickstart the restoration of a range of wetland habitats, including rewetting degraded lowland peat and locking in and sequestering carbon in the ground. Delivering this work across over 46 hectares will enable Somerset Wildlife Trust to trial and test land management for carbon at scale. The project will also provide opportunities for demonstrating new techniques and delivery, and for communities to visit and learn from the site, including exploring new NBS income streams for nature-based land management, likely to generate wide interest in areas with a thousand-year history of farming.

  1. Sussex Wildlife Trust – working with local communities to restore a kelp forest

Sussex Wildlife Trust is championing the restoration of over 200 square kilometers of lost kelp forest. This ambitious project has inspired the involvement of thousands of people and many organisations, based around the pioneering work of the Local Fisheries Managers (Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority). It has led to the launch of the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project to ensure the successful restoration of a crucial marine ecosystem. The kelp draws down carbon into the developing ecosystem, increases diversity and provides an important nursery habitat for juvenile fish species. Enabling the kelp forest to regenerate at scale could also help alleviate coastal flood risk. Coinciding with the launch of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the project will collect evidence to demonstrate the importance of restoring marine ecosystems including the benefits to fisheries and local communities. Sussex Wildlife Trust will be working with a local film-maker to inspire, engage and communicate the importance of the Sussex kelp. This will be broadcast at a special summit on kelp in November. An ambitious and hope-filled project that will help heal the Sussex marine environment.

  1. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – contributing to the restoration of the Great North Bog

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with counterparts in Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and Northumberland to restore a gigantic swathe of peat bog across the north of England. The Great North Bog project aims to put over 4,000 hectares of upland peatland under restoration management, with estimated annual savings in carbon emissions of at least 8,590 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare, per year. Funding will scale up the project, to include developing up to 15 new restoration plans, marketing peatland restoration to private investors, and conducting long-term monitoring over 20 years with techniques and equipment developed by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and University of Manchester.

Sphagnum moss

Sphagnum moss © Chris Lawrence

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