A series of projects in the south west that protect landscapes and wildlife, connect people with nature and help to create and retain green jobs have secured millions of pounds of funding.

The government is providing nearly £40million to 68 projects across England in the first round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Over 800,000 trees will be planted and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests will be restored.

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

Eight south west-based organisations have secured funding towards ten projects.

They include:

• Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire (£1.6million) – to safeguard the Somerset coast from the effects of climate change, with a focus on creating and restoring 130ha of habitats for wildlife

• Plantlife, Salisbury (£923,000) – £713,000 to create new wildflower meadows across England, including in Devon, Cornwall and Wiltshire, and £210,000 for its ‘Saving England’s Juniper’ project, including in Wiltshire

• Dorset AONB Partnership/Dorset Council (£764,000) – £550,000 to create 1,370ha of lowland heathland mosaic at the heart of the Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve and £214,000 to conserve and restore some of the best-loved and valuable landscape features in West Dorset

• National Marine Aquarium/Ocean Conservation Trust, Plymouth (£250,000) – to restore seagrass habitat along the South Devon coast, allowing the capture and storage of carbon

• Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (£250,000) – for the county-wide ‘Rebuilding Landscapes for Nature’s Recovery’ project, with a focus on priority habitat and threatened species in the Forest of Dean and Golden Valley

• Mendip Hills AONB Unit, Somerset (£249,000) – for its Level Up project, alongside Blackdown Hills and Quantock Hills AONBs, to restore important grassland habitat and enhance and create woodland to improve resilience in the face of climate change and ash dieback

• Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (£76,000) – for its ‘People Protecting Precious Places’ project, helping people to understand how to ‘Watch Seals Well’

• East Devon AONB Partnership (£69,000) – for its ‘Return of the true Night Rider’ project to protect the grey long-eared bat from extinction in the UK.

Meanwhile, at least six national organisations have been awarded funding towards projects in the region.

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These include:

• Woodland Trust/National Trust (£3.9million) – to carry out vital work to restore 60 woodland areas across England while also caring for several ancient and veteran trees, with a focus on Devon and other priority areas, including sites in Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

• National Trust (£3.9million) – to enhance nature and combat the effects of climate change in five historic landscapes, including the Killerton estate near Exeter, while additional funding will support nature recovery in Purbeck, Dorset

• The Tree Council (£1.8million) – for Close the Gap, an 18-month project focused on achieving bigger, healthier and better-connected hedgerows, working with South Brent-based charity Moor Trees and other partners

• Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (£549,000) – to increase tree planting across NHS sites to provide carbon capture, shade and recreation and embed nature recovery rangers at three locations, including North Bristol NHS Trust

• Vincent Wildlife Trust (£180,000) – to future-proof England’s premier Horseshoe bat roosts against climate change, including at locations in Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

• Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (£124,000) – to work with 100 farms to inspire farmers and communities to work for the conservation of the iconic barn owl, including expansion to new sites across Dorset and Wiltshire

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s ten point plan to kickstart nature recovery, create green jobs and tackle climate change while helping the country build back better and greener from the pandemic.

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