A raft of new projects that store carbon and restore habitats have been unveiled by the Wildlife Trusts as part of efforts to tackle the climate and nature crises.
The 12 schemes include improving fragmented wetlands across four counties in England and Wales to pave the way for reintroducing beavers, restoring peatland in five counties and expanding saltmarsh along the Essex coast.
The schemes by the coalition of 46 nature charities employ “nature based solutions”, using landscapes and habitats to tackle climate emissions and impacts at the same time as helping to reverse declines in the natural world.
They also include planting new seagrass habitat in the Solent, connecting up fragmented woodland throughout Derbyshire, helping protect temperature-sensitive chalk grassland butterflies, and supporting a pioneering project to restore a kelp forest off the coast of Suffolk.
The Wildlife Trusts said the projects will help the UK to cut its emissions to “net zero”, cutting emissions to as near to zero as possible and offsetting any remaining pollution with measures to absorb carbon.
The schemes are able to move forward thanks to nearly £2 million raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the trusts said.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “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.”
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “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.”
The projects unveiled are:
– A first-of-its-kind project by Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust to create features within chalk grassland to provide suitable niches for temperature-sensitive butterflies including small blue, chalkhill blue and rare Duke of Burgundy as the climate changes.
– A collaboration by Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire Wildlife Trusts to reverse the significant loss of wetlands and lowland peatlands across the Meres and Mosses, carrying out surveys at three sites leading to the expected reintroduction of wetland-engineering beavers on peat soils in 2022.
– New support to Cumbria Wildlife Trust achieve its long-term vision of creating a vast nature reserve within South Lakeland, restoring deep peat used for agriculture to lowland raised bogs and establish sphagnum moss farming.
– A project by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to facilitate planting new woodlands and connecting existing areas of woodland habitats in the Derwent Valley, which could enable the reintroduction of species such as pine marten and red squirrels.
– Devon Wildlife Trust will create a centre for seeing nature-based solutions in action at Woodah Farm, highlighting how to create healthier, more diverse landscapes that support nature, lock in carbon and produce food at the same time.
– Essex Wildlife Trust is scaling up techniques to restore and protect the UK’s saltmarshes, which can reduce flood risks and the effects of storm surges and act as a huge carbon sink.
– Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is restoring seagrass in the Solent, to increase wildlife and sustainable fisheries, and create natural carbon stores, with the project closely monitored so lessons learned can help replicate the technique at scale in the region and beyond.
– Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is working with farmers to help create a “nature recovery network”, improving soil health and river and stream quality and reducing dependence and fertilisers, while funding will also help put seven hectares of land to herb-rich leys, fields with a diverse mix of plant species.
– Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is designing a series of ponds, leaky dams, rewetting wetlands and woodland creation in the Limb sub-catchment to slow water to prevent flooding, create habitats and improve water quality, in partnership with the Environment Agency and Sheffield City Council.
– Honeygar Farm is being acquired by Somerset Wildlife Trust this year and funding will enable ecological surveys and kickstart the restoration of wetland habitat and carbon storage, allowing the trust to test land management for carbon at scale over 46 hectares of land.
– Sussex Wildlife Trust is working with local communities to restore more than 200 square kilometres of lost kelp forest, which draws down carbon, increases wildlife and provides a nursery for juvenile fish, as well as potentially alleviating coastal flood risk.
– Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with counterparts in Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and Northumberland to restore a huge swathe of peat bog across the north of England, in the Great North Peat Bog project, to store carbon, developing up to 15 new restoration plans and marketing schemes to private investors.