Two grants received from Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund!

28th July 2021

Freshwater Habitats Trust receives two grants totalling £888,000 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Freshwater Habitats Trust is developing a new approach to protecting freshwater biodiversity – refocussing conservation work onto the networks of small waters, wetlands and grasslands that are critical for freshwater biodiversity – with two grants awarded 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.

Both projects proposed by FHT are building on new evidence highlighting the need to ‘protect the best freshwaters and build out’, with a special emphasis on the creation and restoration of small waters and wetlands, recognised as vital by the Natural Capital Committee and interim Office for Environmental Protection. The projects will help new and diverse audiences connect with nature.

Oxfordshire has an extraordinary but declining freshwater heritage, much dependant on its exceptional fens, meadows, ponds and floodplains. ‘Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network: engaging people in nature’s recovery’, will include creation and restoration of critical pond, floodplain and wetland habitat, engaging local communities in growing endangered water plants and training a new generation of young people in freshwater management and conservation.

In the New Forest, Freshwater Habitats Trust are one of several partners led by the New Forest National Park Authority on the project ‘Green and Blue Horizons from City to Forest’. The ‘blue horizon’ includes small ponds, lakes, streams and coasts, and the unique species of the New Forest Important Freshwater Area. This project will create wildlife-rich corridors to link habitats and work closely with farmers and landowners using nature-based solutions to restore habitat and reduce land based emissions. In addition to this, it will also develop volunteering and outreach helping people to become more connected with nature and gain new pathways to employment.

Freshwater Habitats Trust Director, Dr Jeremy Biggs said,

“We’re thrilled to have been awarded funding for these projects. Oxfordshire and the New Forest are both nationally significant Important Freshwater Areas, critical for freshwater biodiversity and home to many endangered and declining freshwater plants and animals. Much of what makes the freshwaters special in these areas is under threat – including species at risk of being completely lost from England”.

 “The new projects will help reverse these declines, restore the exceptional freshwater biodiversity of these special areas and, more than anything, demonstrate new ways of tackling the freshwater biodiversity crisis”.

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.”

A full list of awards is available to view at:


The Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.’

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

About Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust is an evidence-led environmental NGO working to protect freshwater biodiversity in the UK, and beyond, undertaking research and survey, practical conservation work and policy development.