Scotland’s £65m nature restoration fund invites projects to apply now

Monday July 24th 2023

Loch Arkaig-25

Loch Arkaig - image credit Woodlands Trust Scotland Media Library.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Conservation projects that aim to put Scotland’s land, rivers and seas back on the road to recovery are being invited to apply to a multi-million pound nature restoration fund.

The Scottish Government’s £65 million Nature Restoration Fund has already awarded around £17.5 million to 125 projects across the country since it opened in July 2021. Managed by NatureScot, the fund supports projects to take practical steps to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss and to restore Scotland’s natural environment.

NatureScot is accepting Expressions of Interest all year round for projects that will restore species and habitats, protect our marine and coastal areas, and eradicate invasive, non-native species.

Funding is available through two streams – the Helping Nature stream supports nature restoration projects with grants available of between £25,000 and £250,000 and the Transforming Nature stream is for landscape-scale projects with grants over £250,000.

Projects which have been funded so far include a Helping Nature grant for the Peffery Wet Woodland project to create a wet woodland and help divert an artificially straightened watercourse back to a natural course, and a grant for Harestone Rewilding project to restore natural habitats by creating grasslands, hedgerows and wetlands in a farming area of Aberdeenshire.

The Transforming Nature strand is supporting a project led by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to restore wetland habitats for wildfowl and natterjack toads at the Caerlaverock nature reserve in Dumfries & Galloway. The project will replace intensive agricultural practices with ecosystem-sensitive, low impact grazing to improve habitats and increase species diversity. The Arkaig Landscape Restoration Partnership is benefitting from a Transforming Nature grant as well, restoring a large area of Scotland’s rainforest at Loch Arkaig, near Spean Bridge, while Scotland’s seabirds will benefit from a project delivered by RSPB to establish Scotland as a leader in island biosecurity, taking preventive measures to protect ground nesting seabirds across 37 Special Protection Areas for birds.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:

“The Nature Restoration Fund is having a real impact across Scotland, restoring rivers and floodplains, regenerating our forests and recovering our wildlife populations. It’s Scotland’s largest ever fund for nature and since we launched it at COP26 in Glasgow we have already invested over £20 million, helping to deliver landscape-scale, transformative change.

“This fund will be crucial in helping us achieve the aims of our new Biodiversity Strategy, which sets out a long-term ambition and vision to restore Scotland’s natural environment. Our strategy will be supported by a delivery plan, backed by evidence and underpinned by statutory targets for nature recovery.”

NatureScot Chair Professor Colin Galbraith said:

“As we tackle the devastating nature and climate crisis, it’s crucial we take bold action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and reduce the effects of climate change. Through the Nature Restoration Fund, we are supporting projects that have the potential to make a tangible difference to our future and this new round of funding will allow us to support even more positive action across Scotland.”

Find out more about the Nature Restoration Fund and how to apply.

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