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Seagrass, dolphins and voles set to benefit from £8.2 million of Welsh Government nature funding

08 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Julie James at Project Seagrass

Wales’ Climate Change Minister Julie James has announced £8.2m of Welsh Government funding for nature projects.

Thirty-nine schemes will receive support as part of the latest round of the Nature Network Fund.

Among the projects receiving funding are research into bugs living on coal spoils, the reintroduction of voles to Newport wetlands and learning more about the diets of dolphins off the coast of west Wales.

This fund is a key component of the Nature Network Programme, launched in 2021, helping Welsh Government work towards the Global Biodiversity Framework 30 by 30 goal, which aims to protect and effectively manage 30% of the planet’s marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments by 2030.

Resilience 

Delivered by the Welsh Government in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Natural Resources Wales, the fund aims to strengthen the resilience of Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites, to support nature recovery and to encourage engagement with local communities.

Climate Change Minister Julie James announced the latest round of funding on a visit to Pendine’s Project Seagrass which has been awarded £249,000.

Seagrass habitats are important to Wales’ marine environment as they can capture carbon, which helps in addressing nature and climate emergency commitments.

The new project will focus on three Special Areas of Conservation (SAC); Pembrokeshire Marine, Carmarthen Bay and Severn Estuary.

Julie James, said: “Tackling the climate and nature emergencies is at the heart of everything we do – we must protect our environment for future generations to enjoy.

“I’m delighted to announce the latest round of funding today, it’s always inspiring to see the variety of amazing work happening right across Wales to protect nature and biodiversity.

“This new funding will help facilitate the ‘Team Wales’ approach that we require to improve the condition and resilience of our protected sites while engaging local communities and connecting them to amazing natural sites on their doorsteps.”

Multitude of benefits

Chief Executive Officer and Charity Co-Founder at Project Seagrass, Dr Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth, said: “Seagrasses provide a multitude of benefits to people and the planet.

“These systems support very high biodiversity, commercial fisheries and can capture and store large amounts of carbon.

“The UK has lost an estimated 90% of its native seagrass cover over the past century. Healthy seagrass meadows are a valuable ally in the fight against the current biodiversity and climate crises.

“We need to look after our remaining meadows but have a huge opportunity now to put back some of what has been lost and in years to come reap the benefits of mature, healthy systems.

“This project is a significant boost, it will kickstart the long-term recovery of seagrass in South Wales.”

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, added: “Funding natural heritage projects which help tackle the effects of climate change and support nature’s recovery is a key priority for The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.

“The Nature Networks Fund is a valuable partnership which helps us to meet this objective.

“These latest awards will support an impressive variety of projects which demonstrate the ambition of the Fund as well as the scale of the challenge facing us all.”


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