Nature fund's latest £1.8m to save Scotland’s most threatened plants and wildlife

10 July 2020

Projects to restore part of the River Tweed’s mosaic of wetlands and natural woodland; help protect wading birds of global conservation concern in the Clyde Valley, and tackle the notoriously destructive invasive plant Japanese knotweed are among the latest recipients in the Scottish Government's Biodiversity Challenge Fund.

Following delays resulting from the COVID-19 situation, more than £1.8m funding for sixteen projects is currently being finalised. Investment in ‘green recovery’ is one of the most cost effective ways of making our communities sustainable and more resilient, while driving inclusive economic development.

Successful projects include Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust’s Endrick Legacy Project, awarded nearly £100,000 to help tackle a wide range of highly-destructive invasive species, including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, American mink and American signal crayfish. Understood to be one of the greatest threats to the beauty and variety of our nature, damage by invasive species is estimated to cost the Scottish economy £300m each year.

More than £100,000 has also been awarded to the charity Tweed Forum in plans to restore a previously straightened part of the Little Yarrow tributary of the River Tweed, creating a natural, meandering river channel, within a 12-hectare floodplain, and creating new woodland and wetland habitats for a wide range of wildlife.

In the Clyde Valley, RSPB - awarded nearly £90,000 - will work with landowners to improve the survival rates and breeding sites of upland wading birds of global concern, including the lapwing, curlew and oystercatcher.

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund specifically encourages applicants with innovative projects that improve biodiversity and address the impact of climate change, by increasing the resilience of our most at-risk habitats and species; and creating large areas of brand new habitat. The fund is in its second year with 21 projects at a total value of £2.6m supported in the first round.  So far, the fund’s achievements include:

  • Over 20,000 trees planted in a variety of habitats
  • Over 7000m2 of grassland improved with 620m2 seeded with wildflowers and 85m of hedges planted
  • 417 hectares of habitat managed to improve habitat for curlews
  • 3 wetland areas restored, 33 ponds and scrapes (shallow depressions which seasonally hold water) created, and over 1,500m2 of terrestrial features created to benefit amphibians and reptiles
  • Alpine heath restored with 200 dwarf shrub Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi plants transplanted

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives, but it has also presented us with a chance to re-imagine how we approach Scotland around us, and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy.   

“The dual emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss have of course not gone away and must form a central part of our recovery. These Biodiversity Challenge Fund awards will help pioneering work to restore our habitats, protect our species and promote natural solutions in support of our green recovery and net-zero ambitions, channelling much needed funding into our economy, securing jobs and developing employment skills at what is a crucial time for nature and for people.”

NatureScot Chief Executive, Francesca Osowska, said:

“As lockdown conditions lift, green recovery projects like the Biodiversity Challenge Fund put nature, and nature-based solutions, at the heart of rebuilding our economy. 

“But it’s not just about conservation - enriching our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency too. People know that climate change is a big issue but not as many know that biodiversity loss is also a global and generational threat to human well-being.  

“Nature is at the heart of what we do, and we will continue to deliver the transformational change needed to bring a nature-rich, sustainable and more economically secure future for Scotland.”

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund adds to the many millions of pounds of Scottish Government funding delivered through the Scottish Rural Development Programme and other sources to support biodiversity and help to deliver Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy.