Projects share £7.8m to restore at-risk habitats and species

4 April 2024

Fourteen projects across Scotland are to receive a share of £7.8m from the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, bringing the total invested so far to nearly £40 million.

Work includes expanding woodlands, creating wetlands and restoring rivers, as well as helping to protect native species, such as the red squirrel, and controlling invasive non-native plants, such as rhododendron to benefit Scotland’s rainforest.

The Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) supports projects to help tackle the nature-climate crises, working to restore Scotland’s biodiversity and increase resilience to climate change, while improving the health and wellbeing of local communities.

Included in the awards is support for developing plans for future nature restoration projects for a wide range of habitats and species. This will help conservation groups, land managers and communities plan for activities to maximise the benefits and impacts for nature.

These latest projects join around 150 others which have already received funding from the NRF, which was launched at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. The most recent awards include:

  • £1.4 million to the River South Esk Catchment Partnership to improve the biodiversity, climate resilience and ecology of the River South Esk Catchment, from hilltop to riverbed. Activities will include creating and regenerating 170 hectares of native woodland, 30 hectares of wetland, re-meandering 250m of the March burn to reconnect it to its floodplain and restoring habitats in the River South Esk.
  • Over £1 million to the Scottish Wildlife Trust led Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project to carry out vital conservation work on the ground and develop new and innovative techniques to halt red squirrel declines, protect the core red-only populations of the Highlands, and progress population expansion in the Northeast and Central Lowlands of Scotland. It represents the next step in the journey towards sustainable long-term red squirrel conservation in Scotland.
  • Saving Argyll’s Rainforest receives £935,438 to undertake clearance of rhododendron in the Tayvallich area of Knapdale, Argyll and Bute, at a landscape scale. This will benefit native woodland in this rainforest zone while safeguarding a large area of defendable, high-quality native woodland.
  • £44,500 to Appin Community Development Trust to develop a future rainforest habitat restoration project. The funding will enable the Trust to produce fully costed proposals to control invasive rhododendron, including detailed surveys to inform cost estimates and identify habitat restoration work, working with landowners and the local community in the Appin Community Council area. 

Biodiversity Minister, Lorna Slater said:

“Since we launched the Nature Restoration Fund in 2021, we have invested nearly £40 million in protecting and enhancing our rivers, land and seas.

“These latest awards will see vital habitats like Atlantic rainforest and rivers restored and treasured species protected, including native red squirrels.

“Investing in restoration projects such as these is essential if we are to stop the declines in nature and secure a future for Scotland’s incredible wildlife and landscapes.”

NatureScot Chair, Colin Galbraith said:

“Scotland is facing an unprecedented nature-climate crisis. Tackling this crisis is the key focus of our work with the Scottish Government, to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it with large-scale restoration by 2045. Importantly, this is not just about meeting targets for the sake of it: achieving these changes will benefit us all and help nature recover.

“Projects like these are helping us to bring about the nature transformation we desperately need to see, but there is much more to be done. The only way we can restore nature and reach net zero is by working together. People who live and work on the land and sea are vital in realising this vision and are a key part of a new “Partnership for Nature” that we are seeing develop across the country.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to work closely with local communities, land managers and partners across Scotland to ensure that they can steer and help achieve this positive and sustained change to benefit people and nature.”


The Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund is a commitment in the current Programme for Government for multi-year funding as part of overall investment in the natural economy.

The £65 million fund, which includes direct funding to local authorities as part of the Edinburgh Process, is a key part of the Bute House Agreement and multi-year funding across this parliament was announced on Nature Day at COP26 in 2021.

NatureScot manages the competitive element of the fund, which specifically encourages applicants with projects that restore wildlife and habitats on land and sea and address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. For further information see:

NatureScot manages the competitive element of the fund, which specifically encourages applicants with projects that restore wildlife and habitats on land and sea and address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. For further information see the Scottish Government Nature Restoration Fund web page.

Read the full list of Successful Projects.