Fund launched to boost innovative rewilding projects and bring back nature

The charity Rewilding Britain aims to fund schemes that involve community engagement, local enterprises or new technology.

15 February 2022

A “rewilding innovation” fund is being launched by a nature charity to boost locally-led projects to help land and sea habitats recover.

Rewilding Britain will offer up to £15,000 each for projects that create new opportunities for large-scale restoration of nature.

These could include engaging with the community, business plans for enterprises such as ecotourism that generate income for the local economy or using new technology in rewilding.

A pilot of the fund last year handed out £55,000 to projects including one using new light-detection techniques to measure carbon capture of scrub and wood pasture at several rewilding sites in England and Scotland, and a seagrass restoration feasibility in northeast England.

The scheme comes as rewilding – the large-scale restoration of nature to the point it can take care of itself, by bringing back habitats and natural processes and, where appropriate, reintroducing lost species such as beavers – is rising up the agenda.

Part of the Government’s approach to reforming farming subsidies in England will see land managers paid for large-scale projects which could include rewilding.

Aerial view of a wetland landscape modified by beavers
Rewilding involves large-scale restoration of natural systems, including reintroducing species such as beavers (Sam Rose/whatifyoujustleaveit.info/PA)

Polling shows high levels of support for rewilding, though it has prompted concern from some quarters about switching land away from food production.

The innovation fund from Rewilding Britain will go towards land-based projects that are at least 40 hectares ( 100 acres) in size, while marine projects can be of any size.

The charity says it expects to fund around 15-20 schemes in England, Wales and Scotland this year, with the money awarded to those with the potential for the highest impact for people and nature.

It says it particularly wants to support community projects.

Sara King, Rewilding Britain’s rewilding network manager, said: “The Rewilding Innovation Fund is being launched in response to the rapidly growing thirst for information, advice and funding for rewilding as a powerful way of tackling the nature and climate emergencies, while creating real social and economic benefits for people.

“We particularly want to support community projects, because locally-led action is central to helping nature recover in ways that work for people and communities, and for creating connectivity of nature across the country.”

New ideas and learning from successful applications will be fed back into the charity’s “rewilding network” of community groups, landowners, farmers and land managers to provide practical information for their efforts to rewild.

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