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£9.8 million boost for Wales’ biodiversity

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WALES’ protected natural sites and vital wildlife habitats are getting a nearly £10 million boost, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has said today.

The funding will give a helping hand to some of Wales’ most loved species of animals and plants, as it seeks to support projects that improve Wales’ protected natural sites, from the Severn Estuary to the Llandegla Moors.

These sites are home to the iconic – such as otter, bottlenose dolphin and grey seal, alongside the obscure – such as the petalwort plant and whorl snails. They are also home to a wide range of birds, including the critically endangered Atlantic puffin.

National Heritage Memorial Fund will be administering the ‘Nature Networks Fund’, providing grants from £50,000 – £500,000 to projects that work within the borders of Wales’ protected natural sites.

The sites supported provide a vital sanctuary and high level of protection to nearly 70 species, and more than 50 types of habitats which face threats worldwide.

They also contribute significantly to the Welsh economy through tourism recreation, farming, fishing and forestry. And they provide vital life-support services for all of us – including purifying drinking water, and storing carbon.

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The scheme will support actions such as woodland creation or felling; controlling invasive species; making water quality improvements through dredging or erosion control; restoring habitats; creation of green jobs and others.

Two horses  (Sol and Flynn) clearing woodland at Craig Gwladus. This is a project that is being funded by the Community Woodlands grant programme, which is Welsh Government funded.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: Wales along with the rest of the world faces a nature crisis, with the state of our wildlife and natural habitats declining, threatening extinction to some of our most iconic species.

“The funding Welsh Government has provided to the protected site network is a vital step in protecting and restoring these areas, and helping us to strengthen resilient ecological networks.

“This means we have a better chance to enjoy our wildlife and beautiful national parks today and into the future, which we know pays dividends for our mental wellbeing. It means that the services that nature provides us for which we all rely- such as clean water and air- are better protected. And it means we, and all living things in Wales, can build better resilience against climate change.

“Places such as Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are hugely important to Wales’ wildlife and natural heritage.

“They are cornerstones of our nature recovery work, and protect the range, quality and variety of some of our most important species. I look forward to seeing the exciting projects that arise from the fund that in tandem with the other work Welsh Government is undertaking, builds a green and healthy recovery from coronavirus.”

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Commenting on the announcement of the Nature Networks Fund, Andrew White – Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said: “Protected sites play a vital role in reversing the effects of climate change and we’re thrilled to be working with the Welsh Government to support Wales’ green recovery through the Nature Networks Fund.

“The Nature Network Fund will also support communities in and around these sites to become involved in this crucial work. This will have direct benefits for health and wellbeing as well as improving the resilience of the sites.”

Although the Nature Networks Fund opens for applications on 12 April, details about the programme are now available on The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s website.

Between 12 April and 24 May, projects wanting grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 can submit their applications.

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Projects interested in applying for grants of between £100,000 and £500,000 will need to make an expression of interest to The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales between 12 April and 30 April.

After this, groups who have passed the expression of interest stage will be invited to apply for a grant between 19 May and 30 June.

The Nature Networks Fund information can be viewed here: www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/application-guidance-nature-networks-fund

Lead image: Puffin on Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire (Image: National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales)


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