Support for communities and organisations as Wales looks to tackle biodiversity crisis

As experts and activists from across Wales gather to collaborate in support of nature recovery at the Wales Biodiversity Partnership Conference, today sees the opening of the new Green Recovery Capacity Building Scheme for the environmental sector.

The grant scheme has been developed as one of a series of responses to the work of the Green Recovery Taskforce led by Sir David Henshaw, as chair of NRW.

The scheme will help to foster the growth of smaller organisations as well as more established groups so they can expand their role in accelerating a green recovery in their local areas and through specialist expertise.

Increasing investment in the protection of our natural heritage is vital – but it is equally important that we support the growth of the sector in Wales, so we can maximise the impact of new investment and support organisations to leverage in commitments from other funders and from our communities.

The new scheme is being delivered in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund who bring a wealth of expertise in supporting voluntary sector organisations to increase their resilience, strengthen their impact and develop ambitious long-term plans.

The scheme will provide grants of between £5,000 and £100,000.Applications open today (November 23) and will close on January 10, 2021

This year has seen a renewed drive by Welsh Government to restore protected sites and species, and to extend habitats for the benefit of nature and our communities.

There has been a fantastic community response to this call and our capacity building scheme is designed so that we can see many more of them next year and beyond.

There are great examples from across Wales in our Natura 2000 (N2K) scheme, for which grant awards have recently been confirmed- just one in a series of new nature-focussed initiatives this year.

These include:

North Wales:

  • Providing capital funds to the Snowdonia National Park Authority to help improve and restore N2K sites throughout the park.
  • Protecting great crested newts at Globe Way Nature Reserve in Buckley, Flintshire, by supporting the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust to restore ponds and wildflower meadows.

Mid Wales:

  • Backing the Mynydd Mallaen Grazing Association to bring parts of the Cambrian range into favourable conservation status, through the use of flocks of indigenous sheep to help manage the environment.
  • Working with the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust to enable better heathland and grassland management at the Gilfach Nature Reserve.

South West Wales:

  • Working with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to use grazing cattle and land management to help restore habitats for southern damselfly and marsh fritillary butterfly – two of Wales’ most threatened species.
  • Backing the Mynydd Mallaen Grazing Association to bring parts of the Cambrian range into favourable conservation status, through the use of flocks of indigenous sheep to help manage the environment.
  • Helping the West Wales Rivers Trust to improve habitat resilience, fish passage and water quality in the River Pembroke, and the Eastern and Western Cleddau.

South East Wales:

  • The Aberbargoed Grasslands Ecosystem Restoration project, which will help to restore habitats for the marsh fritillary butterfly.
  • Helping the Gwent Wildlife Trust to connect woodland habitats and improve biological diversity in the Wye Valley Wood.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:

“To halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity in Wales we need to strengthen our voluntary sector so they are best placed to support more communities to take more action.

“I asked Sir David Henshaw to convene a group that can engage widely to help identify immediate actions we can take to support our ambitions for a Green Recovery. I am extremely grateful for his work and pleased that today’s announcement can support the ideas that have come forward. I hope to make further announcements in support of the work of that group in the coming weeks.”

“We have significantly increased the funding available this year for everything from community food growing projects that bring more nature into our communities, to remediation of historic metal mines that will restore river health after centuries of damage.

“Our capacity-building scheme will help us to continue to raise our ambitions and to deliver even more of this work, so fundamental to our nation’s wellbeing, by a thriving third sector.”

The Minister added: “I look forward to hearing the views of partners throughout the Wales Biodiversity Partnership Conference, and would encourage everyone in Wales with an interest in our natural heritage to take part in the week’s online activities.”

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Wales said:

“Nature is our oldest form of heritage and it has never been more important to look after nature and this is why it is one of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s key strategic funding priorities in Wales.

“We are very glad to be working with the Welsh Government to enable us to deliver the Green Recovery Capacity Building Scheme to support environmental charities in Wales at this particularly challenging time.

“The funding we will be providing will go towards supporting these organisations to build their resilience through training to develop their business skills – such as governance, financial resilience and project management to ensure that they can flourish and improve the services they deliver.

“Anyone who is potentially interested in applying for a grant is also welcome to contact us beforehand for feedback and advice about their project by emailing [email protected] or calling 029 2034 3413.”