The Wildlife Trusts across England, Scotland and Wales are to harness the power of nature to fight climate change, thanks to almost £2 million raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The money will be used to fund nature restoration projects which will help stabilise emissions from degraded land and maximise carbon storage through natural processes, locking up carbon in our peatlands, meadows, wetlands and at sea.
Wild habitats have a huge role to play in addressing climate change. A hectare of saltmarsh, for example, can capture two tonnes of carbon a year and lock it into sediments for centuries, but we are losing nearly 100 hectares of saltmarsh a year.
When healthy, our natural habitats can reduce the risk of flooding, help prevent coastal erosion, improve people’s health and wellbeing, as well as maintain healthy soils, clean water and the pollinators needed by farmers for their crops.
Craig Bennett, chief executive at The Wildlife Trusts, said: "Wilder places are better for beavers, birds and butterflies and better for storing carbon too, which is good news for tackling climate change."
“When you re-wet a peatland and stop it from drying out, it locks up vast amounts of carbon and this new Postcode Lottery funding means The Wildlife Trusts can make this happen on a huge scale.”
One such project already underway is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s peat restoration programme.
Dr Tim Thom of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who manages the project, said: “Yorkshire’s peatland holds an estimated 38 million tonnes of carbon in total.
“However, much of it is in decline – channels were historically cut to drain the peatland, and ongoing activities such as grazing and burning can continue to cause damage.
“Since 2009, we’ve been working to restore the blanket bog on a massive scale by blocking drainage ditches, replanting bare areas with mosses and other plants, and reducing erosion.
“So far, we have completed restoration works on over 30,000 hectares of Yorkshire’s blanket bog.
“This vital work can reverse the loss of peat and helps keep carbon locked up. It also helps regulate water flow and reduces the risk of flooding, increasing the resilience of communities downstream.”
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been supporting The Wildlife Trusts since 2008 but today’s news means that, for the first time, every one of Britain’s 43 Wildlife Trusts is now benefitting from player support.