From donkeys in Snowdonia to the salmon of the River Usk and everything in between, the Welsh Government has today confirmed 29 projects across Wales that will benefit from the Nature Networks Fund.
The Nature Networks Fund was confirmed in March this year with the Welsh Government promising to invest in the ‘condition and connectivity’ of the protected site network, supported by the ‘active involvement of local communities’.
The Minister will confirm £7m of Welsh Government support for these projects in the Senedd later today where she is expected to say: “Tackling the climate and nature emergencies is at the heart of everything we do – we must protect our environment for future generations to enjoy.
“Recognising the importance of harnessing the power of local communities, this funding will support citizen science, school engagement programmes and volunteer training to build networks of people engaged with these sites, which are cornerstones of our nature recovery work.
“We need a ‘Team Wales’ approach if we are to achieve our ambitious plans to restore nature. We want everyone in Wales to see nature – because if people engage with nature, they value nature.”
The sites supported provide a vital sanctuary and high level of protection to nearly 70 species, and more than 50 types of habitats which face threats worldwide.
They also contribute significantly to the Welsh economy through tourism recreation, farming, fishing and forestry. And they provide vital life-support services for all of us – including purifying drinking water, and storing carbon.
National Heritage Memorial Fund has taken responsibility for administering the Nature Networks Fund, Andrew White – Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:
“From restoring wetlands, to creating rich habitat for wildlife to flourish, it is vital that we preserve and rebuild our natural heritage.
“The Nature Networks scheme, in partnership with the Welsh Government, will allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, and will also increase public awareness of how and why we need to protect our future.”
Project SIARC (Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities), operating in Carmarthen Bay and Tremadog Bay is just one of the projects to benefit from this announcement.
The collaborative project led by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Natural Resources Wales received £390,000, alongside funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund and On the EDGE Conservation, to carry out vital conservation research on Wales’ marine environment with a strong focus on sharks, skates and rays.
They will use the funding to catalyse links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to help safeguard these species and support a green recovery in Wales.
Joanna Barker, Senior Project Manager at ZSL, said: “We’re excited to scale up our collaboration with fishers and complete innovative research to better understand the amazing shark, skate and ray species that use two of Wales’ Special Areas of Conservation.
“With several opportunities for schools and local communities to be part of Project SIARC, we hope to generate a new appreciation of the underwater environment in Wales and identify ways for a wider range of people to get involved.”