Avon Wildlife Trust receives £1,777,600 grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Avon Wildlife Trust receives £1,777,600 grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund

This fabulous award will allow the creation of the Bristol Avon Catchment Market, a ground-breaking partnership between Avon Wildlife Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Wessex Water. The aim is to kickstart a market for nature-based solutions, meaning the generation of millions of pounds of additional sustainable funds to enable nature’s recovery.

It’s one of 90 nationwide projects awarded grants to accelerate the implementation of nature-based projects, from new ‘insect pathways’ in our countryside and towns, to tree planting projects in deprived urban areas.

The second funding round of Green Recovery Challenge Fund has been backed by £40 million, with over 1,000 jobs to be created or retained in England.

Avon Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant for this unique partnership project to create a long-term, sustainable source of private funding by means of environmental credit sales from nature-based solutions. The funds will come from the Government’s £40 million second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a multi-million pound boost for green jobs and nature recovery.

90 nature projects across England have been awarded grants from £68,100 to £1,950,000 to create and retain over 1,000 green jobs, backed by the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Work will be carried out on over 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall, and combined with the first round, almost a million trees will be planted, contributing towards the Government’s commitment to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.

The Bristol Avon Catchment Market will enable unprecedented additional habitat conservation and restoration to take place across Avon, on a landscape scale. By March 2023, 58 hectares of grassland, 85 hectares of new woodland and five hectares of wetland will have been restored, along with the creation of 29 jobs – and that’s just the start. Crucially, the catchment market offers financial sustainability, creating a long-term source of private funding by capitalising on the ability of nature-based projects to deliver integrated action on climate change and nature’s recovery at the same time.

Amy Coulthard, Director for Nature's Recovery at Avon Wildlife Trust said, "This is a genuine step change for the delivery of nature-based solutions at a landscape scale. It’s an outstanding example of partnership working at its best, delivering record levels of additional habitat restoration and conservation by recognising the value of the work we do, with the goal of achieving nature’s recovery across the region.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. Connecting people with nature is another priority theme: by increasing access to nature and greenspaces, projects will support both physical and mental wellbeing. The Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies  The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

Dr Gary Mantle, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust commented, ”The pandemic has highlighted the importance of nature to our health and wellbeing.  In the face of the ecological and climate crisis we need to find better ways of valuing nature and tackling climate change.  This grant will enable us to develop new ways of working to support nature’s recovery;  enhancing and creating new habitat as part of a nature recovery network of sites across the catchment”.  

Guy Thompson, Group Director of Environmental Futures at Wessex Water and Managing Director of EnTrade, said: “Wessex Water wants to play its part in accelerating a green economic recovery from the Covid pandemic in the West of England.  The Bristol Avon Catchment Market and our strong partnership with the Avon and Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts will enable us to work with partners to progress our vision for a thriving natural environment in our region, with vibrant green spaces in and around places where our customers and communities live and work. 

Guy Thompson continued, “Having played a formative role in establishing the Financing UK Nature Recovery coalition, we want to demonstrate that high integrity environmental markets can attract private investment in nature recovery to address the ecological and climate crises.   The Catchment Market will also demonstrate how nature-based solutions can minimise energy and chemical-intensive infrastructure solutions to clean up our rivers and, by also helping to store carbon, reduce flood risk and enhance wildlife, deliver a better deal for our customers.”

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“The diverse and ambitious projects being awarded funding today will help environmental organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and crucially, help more of the public to access and enjoy the outdoors.

“Through our £80 million Fund, we are on track to support over 2,500 jobs, plant almost a million trees and increase nature recovery at a huge scale across the country, which will help us deliver against our 25 Year Environment Plan.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said, "From wetland restoration, to creating wildlife-rich habitat for bees, it is vital that we value, protect and rebuild our natural heritage. This new funding will not only allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, but it will increase awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future."

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“By supporting jobs from Northumberland to Somerset, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help deliver a nature positive future. The fund supports young people to develop skills needed to protect nature, build back greener and prepare for climate impacts, like floods and heatwaves.”

 Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

“Our environmental and conservation charity sector does an incredible job in protecting, improving and restoring the natural environment for the benefit of communities and the economy.”

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said, "This funding will help deliver thousands more trees and help us achieve our target of trebling tree planting rates in England by the end of the Parliament. We need to work towards net zero emissions by 2050; to address biodiversity loss; to better connect people with nature; and to create more green jobs in doing so. Trees are central to this and the projects being awarded these grants will have a hugely important role in helping us realise these objectives."

A full list of awards is available to view.