Wiltshire Wildlife Trust receives grant of £495,200 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant from the Government’s £40 million second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a multi-million pound boost for green jobs and nature recovery. Ninety nature projects across England have been awarded grants from £68,100 to £1,950,000 to create and retain over 1,000 green jobs, backed by the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Work will be carried out on over 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall, and combined with the first round, almost a million trees will be planted, contributing towards the Government’s commitment to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament. In Wiltshire, the Trust is delighted to announce that, thanks to this grant they are able to carry out a series of important conservation works across Wiltshire, to support the foundation of nature’s recovery and take “action for insects”. There has been serious loss of insect abundance and diversity over the past few decades, and it’s estimated that 41% of insect species currently face extinction. The world is in the midst of an ecological crisis, with experts warning that invertebrates such as insects are dying out at over eight times the rate of other species. Butterflies, bees and other pollinators, as well as being beautiful, perform vital services such as pollinating three quarters of our food crops. Together we must urgently tackle the causes of insect decline; this requires action by government and individuals, farmers and gardeners, companies and supermarkets, as we all have a role to play in averting this catastrophe. This will not only involve stopping the unnecessary use of pesticides, but by restoring valuable habitat and joining these together to allow insects and other wildlife to roam and to thrive. This grant will enable the Trust to carry out vital conservation work for insects across a range of different habitats, such as woodlands, meadows, chalk downland and our rivers and wetlands. As part of the 18 month funding which lasts until March 2023, there will be a number of new positions created within the Trust, for roles at entry level and above. The Trust hopes this will in turn secure more work for local people within the environmental sector, at a time of increased need for a ‘green recovery’ and for action to tackle the impacts of climate change. Dr Gary Mantle, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust commented: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of nature to our health and wellbeing. In the face of the ecological and climate crisis we need to find better ways of valuing nature and tackling climate change. This grant will enable us to develop new ways of working to support nature’s recovery; enhancing and creating new habitat as part of a nature recovery network of sites across the county We are also pleased to be in partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust and Wessex Water, to create the Bristol Avon Catchment Market. Read more about our partnership project The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. Connecting people with nature is another priority theme: by increasing access to nature and greenspaces, projects will support both physical and mental wellbeing. The Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission. Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: The diverse and ambitious projects being awarded funding today will help environmental organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and crucially, help more of the public to access and enjoy the outdoors. Through our £80 million Fund, we are on track to support over 2,500 jobs, plant almost a million trees and increase nature recovery at a huge scale across the country, which will help us deliver against our 25 Year Environment Plan. Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: From wetland restoration, to creating wildlife-rich habitat for bees, it is vital that we value, protect and rebuild our natural heritage. This new funding will not only allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, but it will increase awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future. Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: By supporting jobs from Northumberland to Somerset, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help deliver a nature positive future. The fund supports young people to develop skills needed to protect nature, build back greener and prepare for climate impacts, like floods and heatwaves. Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said: Our environmental and conservation charity sector does an incredible job in protecting, improving and restoring the natural environment for the benefit of communities and the economy. Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said: This funding will help deliver thousands more trees and help us achieve our target of trebling tree planting rates in England by the end of the Parliament. We need to work towards net zero emissions by 2050; to address biodiversity loss; to better connect people with nature; and to create more green jobs in doing so. Trees are central to this and the projects being awarded these grants will have a hugely important role in helping us realise these objectives.