£7.6m boost to transform Scotland’s nature

24 February 2023

Projects across the country to expand forests, restore habitats, protect threatened species and improve our resilience to climate change have been awarded a share of £7.6m from the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund.

In the latest round of funding awards, NatureScot has approved 31 projects to receive funding as part of a national drive to transform nature in Scotland. This round is focussed on supporting large-scale projects with grants in excess of £250,000, including multi-year projects that run up to 2026.

For the first time, it also includes development funding to help big restoration projects plan and research their project before groundworks begin, addressing a key capacity gap in the sector.

One of the large-scale projects being awarded funding is the Arkaig Landscape Restoration Partnership: three neighbouring landowners Woodland Trust Scotland, Arkaig Community Forest, and Achnacarry Estate have been awarded almost £1.25 million over three years to restore a large area of Scotland’s rainforest at Loch Arkaig, near Spean Bridge. Through collaborative working, neighbouring landowners will create significant areas of transitional mountain woodlands, restore formerly planted peatland edge woodland, reintroduce key ancient woodland species, manage deer, supply locally sourced native trees and seeds, and contribute to the eradication of invasive non-native species including rhododendron and gaultheria across the Arkaig catchment. Other projects awarded funding include:

  • Saving Scotland’s most threatened species: The Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) will receive more than £715,000 over three years to prevent the extinction of ten of Scotland’s most threatened plant species, including wych elm, small cow-wheat and marsh saxifrage. RBGE will translocate the ten priority species from its large, genetically diverse collections into new sites, creating climate resilient and adaptable populations in the wild.
  • Wilder, wetter Caerlaverock: The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has been granted just over £325,000 over three years to restore wetland habitats for wildfowl and natterjack toads at its Caerlaverock site in Dumfries and Galloway. The project will replace intensive agricultural practices with ecosystem-sensitive, low impact grazing to enhance habitats and increase species diversity. It will protect and enhance the population of the nationally rare natterjack toad by creating six breeding ponds. 

Managed by NatureScot, The Scottish Government’s £65 million Nature Restoration Fund supports projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities. These projects take practical steps to help against the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and restore Scotland’s natural environment.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:

“Our Nature Restoration Fund is making a difference across the length and breadth of Scotland, restoring our incredible natural environment, helping wildlife thrive, and investing in rural communities. Scotland’s nature is so important to all of us - our woodlands, peatlands, rivers and lochs are central to our cultural heritage and identity. But this complex diversity and abundance of life is also central to our survival as a species. Our economy, jobs, health and wellbeing depend on it. Nature-based solutions – restoring our peatlands and native forests for example - are also key to our success in tackling the climate crisis. 

“Following the agreement of new global targets to end extinctions and restore nature, we have published our new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, setting out our high-level ambition for a nature positive future in Scotland by 2030. This year we will follow it with a new Delivery Plan setting out how we will achieve our stretching goals, including protecting 30% of our land and seas for nature by 2030. Our world leading Nature Restoration Fund will help us achieve that goal by delivering real, transformative change across the country.”

Chair of NatureScot Mike Cantlay said:

“Large-scale nature restoration projects are vital to help us tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. If we are to have any chance of saving nature, then we must do everything we can to halt its decline now.

The Nature Restoration Fund supports ambitious action to put Scotland’s land and seas, and all the wild species that inhabit them, back on the road to recovery. It is projects like the ones we are funding today that will make a real and positive difference.

“We’re particularly pleased to award so many large-scale projects with the development funding they need to put their restoration plans into action and we’re excited to see how these projects progress. With the Nature Restoration Fund, we are helping Scotland halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.”

Since its launch in July 2021, the Nature Restoration Fund has awarded around £17 million to 127 projects across Scotland through its Helping Nature and Transforming Nature funding streams.

The Nature Restoration Fund is also currently accepting expressions of interest for smaller projects seeking funding from £25,000 to £250,000 under its ‘Helping Nature’ funding stream. Projects have until noon on Monday 6 March 2023 to submit an expression of interest to [email protected]. More information is on NatureScot’s website.