A West Dorset charity’s nature recovery project has been shortlisted for Government funding.

On November 29, 2023, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) informed conservationist charity West Dorset Wilding that their nature recovery plan has been shortlisted for government grant, one of 34 projects around England.

The Brit Catchment Recovery Project which involves 53 farmers and landowners from within the wider Brit catchment area, has identified more than 8,000 acres of land which will be improved for nature over 20 or more years, amounting to 38% of the rural land in the catchment.

Over the course of the scheme, it is hoped more wetlands will be added to the landscape as well a species-rich grassland, wood pasture, native woodland and vitally important but often undervalued scrub. This will create space for nature to return, leading to an increase in the diversity and abundance of birds, insects, mammals, fish, native wildflowers, and trees. 

South West Farmer:

In addition to the work with farmers and landowners, the project will also explore deer management and look into the reintroduction of species such as water voles

The scheme’s main objective is to help people from within the catchment area reconnect with nature, benefiting community life as well as nature and our climate.  

Tim Harris, a farmer within the catchment said: “I am delighted that the Landscape Recovery Project application has been successful. This is a golden opportunity for farmers and landowners to cooperate in farming and managing the landscape in an environmentally friendly way.  Such large-scale projects are vitally important to both local areas and the country as a whole.”

Dr Sam Rose, Executive Director for the charity added: “This is an innovative and exciting approach to farmer-led ecosystem restoration, and our overall objective is that at last 50% of the rural parts of our catchment are under better management for nature by 2050.  I can’t wait to get started!”

West Dorset Wilding must now undertake a period of preparation with the government advisors, Natural England, so that work can start in earnest by April 2024.

More information about the project can be found on the West Dorset Wilding website