Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
Defra announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million today, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted - 800,000 in total - and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.
Following the successful bid for funding, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust is launching the South Yorkshire Nature Networks project to pilot Local Nature Recovery Strategies. Working with partners from the South Yorkshire Local Nature Partnership, the Trust will begin to develop action plans that can both aid nature’s recovery, respond to the climate crisis and meet some of the demand from local communities for more involvement and access to nature where they live.
The project will also deliver on four sites in South Yorkshire owned or managed by the Trust or Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, each with their own important natural heritage and community. The pilot scheme will create, expand and enhance woodland and wetland habitat, helping to reduce local flood risk by planting trees and creating ‘leaky dams’ to slow the flow of water. It will also create opportunities to help local communities connect with nature on their doorstep.
Liz Ballard, CEO of Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust explains why the project is needed now:
“We know that nature is in decline and the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. This picture of decline is no different in South Yorkshire, with the ongoing loss of important priority habitats such as ancient woodland, functioning moorland, wetland and unimproved grassland habitats, and the wildlife they support.
We need to not only protect what remains of these important habitats but also enhance, extend, and create new ones – wherever we can - right in the heart of our towns and cities and out into the rural areas.
And we have seen how important being outside in nature has been for many people’s health & wellbeing during this difficult year. So this is a real opportunity for us to start to tackle the nature crisis locally, working with our local communities, right across South Yorkshire.”
The project will also support a small new team, which will include training two young people in Woodland Creation and improving their career prospects with a level 4 qualification in Arboriculture.
The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:
“These projects will drive forward work across England to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create green jobs, and will be a vital part of helping us to build back greener from coronavirus.
“I look forward to working with environmental organisations as these projects help address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, while creating and retaining jobs as part of the green recovery.”
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“Supporting our natural environment is one of the most valuable things we can do right now. All these projects are of huge benefit to our beautiful countryside and wildlife, but will also support jobs, health and wellbeing, which are vitally important as we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.”
The government’s forthcoming Environment Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making to ensure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation. The fund is supporting a range of nature conservation and recovery and nature-based solutions projects, which will contribute towards government’s wider 25 Year Environment Plan commitments, including commitments to increase tree-planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner, Greener Communities, Cllr Sarah Allen, said:
“We welcome this announcement of funding and look forward to continuing our work with the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife trust on existing and future projects. More than 70% of Rotherham is green space with an abundance of local wildlife and natural habitat and that brings a responsibility to look after our natural spaces, something Rotherham Council is committed to through its Year Ahead plan and through implementation of it’s Cultural Strategy”