This week we have announced the outcome of the 2nd round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The Fund was established late last year to help kickstart our green recovery and increase access to nature by creating and retaining thousands of green jobs in areas including tree planting, environmental education and the restoration of damaged habitats, such as peatlands and wetlands.
This additional funding will help support even more environmental projects to help tackle the nature and climate crisis. There are 90 innovative projects, which will each receive a share of £40 million, spanning over 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall. The successful projects range from new ‘insect pathways’ in our countryside and towns, to tree planting projects in deprived urban areas – contributing towards the Government’s commitment to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.
Locally, two projects have been successful in Cornwall. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust is set to receive over £618,000 to support building a greener Cornwall through jobs and nature’s recovery. Furthermore, South West Lakes Trust is using its share of over £160,000 to launch an ‘It’s Your Outdoors’ campaign which will support communities connecting with their blue and green space.
In the first round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Cornwall Seals Research Trust received over £75,000 to help support their work protecting seals. Since receiving the funding the trust used the funding to expand their work and hire more staff to grow the size of their operation. The UK is home to 38% of the entire world’s population of grey seals and 30% of the European subspecies of common seals, yet these precious mammals face an extensive list of threats including climate change, toxic pollution, entanglement, collisions with vessels, plastics and other marine debris. Of these threats, disturbance from human interaction is a significant and growing problem. The funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund has allowed the trust to expand their ‘give seals space campaign and prevent more decline in the Cornish Grey Seal population through education and conservationism.
One of the things that we have valued more during this pandemic is the ability to have access to the natural world and outdoor spaces. With all of the restrictions in place and three lockdowns which have required us to stay at home, the ability to get out and exercise, and form a connection with the natural world has been important. Once this pandemic is over, we will have an opportunity through our new policies to protect our wildlife and leave the environment in a better state for future generations - turning the tide on the decline that we have seen in recent decades.