£3.78 million Nature Networks Fund boost for protected species and nature sites across Wales

Bats, oysters and bumblebees are among the rare species in Wales that are set to benefit from £3.78 million in Welsh Government conservation funding.

The Nature Networks Fund has awarded grants to 17 projects that will improve the condition and resilience of Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites.

Ranging between £87,600 and £249,999, the grants will also allow the projects to support communities around the protected sites to get involved in nature conservation.

The Nature Networks Fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government and in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said:

“This funding will help to facilitate the team Wales approach required to improve the condition and resilience of our protected sites network as well as creating networks of people actively engaged with nature.
“I am pleased to see the wide range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine projects that will make an important contribution to the delivery of our Nature Networks Programme promoting action to help us achieve our 30 by 30 target and becoming nature positive. I look forward to monitoring progress of these projects and the announcement of further funding for a range of large scale projects in due course under the Nature Networks Fund.”

Among the projects being funded are:

  • The Bat Conservation Trust’s ‘Gobaith Coetir – Meirionnydd Oakwoods and Bat Sites SAC Vale of Ffestiniog’ in Gwynedd is receiving £227,603. The grant will fund a survey of SSSI woodlands in the Meirionnydd Oakwoods and Bat Sites Special Areas of Conservation in the Vale of Ffestiniog to measure the diversity and levels of bat activity there.

  • The Zoological Society of London has been awarded £249,919 by the Nature Networks Fund to run the ‘Restoring Wild Oysters to Conwy Bay’ project off the North Wales coast. The two year project aims to restore European native oyster habitat and the biodiverse community of associated organisms to build the resilience of our seas.

  • In Carmarthenshire, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s ‘Connecting the Carmarthenshire Coast’ project is receiving £222,272. Carmarthenshire is a priority landscape for rare bumblebees and the project will carry out comprehensive surveys to provide an accurate picture of populations and habitat for target bumblebee species.

  • In Pembrokeshire, Dr Beynon's Bug Farm Ltd is receiving £211,624 to run its ‘Connected Commons & The Centre for Nature Recovery’ project. The project is aiming to plug the gaps in the habitat corridor across the St Davids Peninsula to benefit species such as the rare greater horseshoe bat;

  • In South East Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust Ltd has secured £248,834 to run its ‘Connecting Nature, Connecting Communities’. It will focus on 11 nature reserves which support habitats including ancient woodland, traditional hay meadows and other species.

Commenting on the announcement, Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:

“Funding natural heritage projects which help tackle the effects of climate change and support nature’s recovery is a key priority for The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales. The Nature Networks Fund, in partnership with the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales is just one of the ways that we are meeting this objective.
“This is an impressive variety of projects which demonstrate the ambition of the Nature Networks Fund as well as the scale of the challenge facing us all.
“From seabird biosecurity; eradicating Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed; to the reintroduction of wild oysters; these grants will help prevent further species and habitat declines, enhance capacity to adapt to the climate crisis and bring direct health benefits to the people and communities involved.”

Ruth Jenkins, Head of Natural Resource Management Policy at Natural Resources Wales said:

“We’re delighted to see these projects supported through this fund, each driving forward the practical action needed to address what is one of the most urgent challenges of our times.
“These successful projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of land owners and organisations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, adaptation to climate change and the wellbeing of those living and working in the surrounding communities. They are all superb and diverse examples of the exciting restoration and community engagement that is critically needed to bring about a step change in the recovery of nature in Wales across land, freshwater and sea.
“They will also each make a key contribution to achieving the wider ambition to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, and our commitment to protect and effectively manage 30% of our land and seas by 2030. We look forward to seeing the projects come to life over the weeks and months ahead.”