Projects that protect landscapes, connect people with nature and help create and retain thousands of green jobs across England have been awarded a share of almost £40 million, the government announced on Thursday (December 10).

The 68 projects will see over 800,000 trees planted as well as helping to restore damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests.

The projects will also support conservation work and help to improve education about the environment.

This first round of funding will award nearly £40 million while the second funding round will open for applications early next year.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery, create green jobs and tackle climate change while helping the country build back better and greener from the pandemic.

What projects will receive funding?

The fund will be delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

The winning projects include:

  • The Woodland Trust, who is being awarded £3,860,200 to restore ancient woodlands and trees in 63 landscapes across England. The funding will also go towards helping to increase skills and capacity within the wider forestry and conservation sectors and reinvigorate UK timber markets;
  • A partnership led by the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) in England and Wales, who will receive £2,543,600 to connect young people to nature and build a new workforce for the green recovery. The project will target young people from deprived areas through virtual, field or class-based learning, day and residential trips, citizen science programmes, and volunteering with experienced environmental tutors across 200 diverse natural heritage sites, such as conservation areas, AONBs, national parks and more;
  • The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, who have been awarded £580,400 to improve access to green spaces at NHS sites across England, including by planting 10,000 trees at 50+ NHS sites, and providing outdoor ecotherapy sessions and refurbishing a garden for a chemotherapy suite, which will allow patients to have treatment outside;
  • The Conservation Education & Research Trust will receive £249,900 to help plant 12 ‘tiny forests’ (the size of a tennis court) in urban areas across England to benefit local communities;
  • The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Owl Box Initiative is being awarded £123,700 to work with 100 farms and supply communities with Barn Owl boxes, monitoring their success and involving farming families in this process.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“These projects will drive forward work across England to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create green jobs, and will be a vital part of helping us to build back greener from coronavirus.

I look forward to working with environmental organisations as these projects help address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, while creating and retaining jobs as part of the green recovery.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“Reaching net zero and achieving the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan goals for nature can only be done by employing the right skills.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will deliver on the ground benefits for local communities, and wildlife, by supporting jobs in the environmental sector.

“This has been a tough year for everyone, but these projects give us reason for optimism and will help develop the skills needed to tackle the climate emergency, protect biodiversity and build back greener.”