Green Recovery grant for Somerset’s AONBs

 In National Landscape updates

Somerset’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Blackdown Hills AONB, Mendip Hills AONB and Quantock Hills AONB) are to receive grant of £248,900 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund towards a regional collaboration to support nature recovery.

The ‘Level Up’ project will be coordinated by Mendip Hills AONB, hosted by Somerset County Council, in partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust, Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset West and Taunton Council, South West Heritage Trust, Blackdown Hills AONB and Quantock Hills AONB.

The project will work across the three AONBs, along strategically important nature recovery networks, to enhance connections for wildlife and transitional habitats between the Hills and the Levels.

Work will involve restoring important grassland habitat through improved conservation grazing and providing benefits in sensitive water catchments, as well as enhancing and creating woodland, helping improve resilience in the face of climate change and ash dieback. At the same time, the project will help connect people with heritage and support the public’s re-discovery of nature as a result of the pandemic, whilst also supporting local environmental charities and contractors.

Typical view of the Blackdown Hills.

Typical view of the Blackdown Hills.

Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Defra announced the grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million on 10 December, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted – 800,000 in total – and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

  • 68 projects have been awarded grants between £62k and £3.8 million to kick-start a pipeline of nature-based projects while creating and retaining jobs.
  • The first funding round sees £40 million allocated, second round of funding to open in early 2021.
    ‘Level Up’, a partnership project spearheaded by the Mendip Hills, Blackdown Hills, and Quantock Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The government’s forthcoming Environment Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making to ensure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation. The fund is supporting a range of nature conservation and recovery and nature-based solutions projects, which will contribute towards government’s wider 25 Year Environment Plan commitments, including commitments to increase tree-planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

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