Five nature-recovery projects spanning nearly 100,000ha across the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset have been announced by the government and Natural England today (Thursday, May 26).

This is the equivalent in size to all 219 current National Reserves.

The aim of the projects is to deliver nature recovery at a landscape scale, helping to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and improve public health and well-being.

All five projects will make a significant contribution towards the national delivery of the international commitment to protect at least 30% of land and sea by 2030

The projects will see newly created and restored wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping-stones which will help wildlife populations move and thrive across town and countryside and thus, will also help to achieve the Environment Act’s legally binding target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.

"These five landmark  projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of land owners and organisations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, adaptation to climate change and for public well-being," said Natural England chair Tony Juniper.

The five projects, for which Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England have already provided an initial £2.4 million funding, are as follows.

Purple Horizons, Walsall

Extending across 10,000ha on the fringes of the West Midlands conurbation, Purple Horizons is restoring and connecting fragmented, nationally and internationally important heathlands to create a mosaic of heathland-wetland-woodland-grassland, vital for the recovery and long-term resilience of the area’s reptiles, birds and pollinators.

Cambridge Nature Network, Cambridgeshire

Covering 9,200ha in and around the City of Cambridge, this restoration will link the inner city to rural countryside across a range of priority habitats and landscapes including chalk grassland, fenlands and ancient woodlands.

Wye Valley, Peak District

Covering 10,000ha, the project is conducting pioneering investigations on how an investment model can be created to generate funding for habitat restoration and creation, providing multiple nature recovery benefits. 

Somerset Wetlands, Somerset

With the new 6,140ha super National Nature Reserve at its heart, Somerset Wetlands is working with local partners and landowners across 60,000ha to enhance nature recovery through habitat creation and investing in strategic solutions that make the wetlands more sustainable and the landscape more resilient to climate change.

Wendling Beck, Norfolk

The Wendling Partnership has come together to embark on an ambitious and inspiring nature restoration project linking initiatives around the Upper River Wensum and 10,000ha in the surrounding farmed countryside of mid-Norfolk.