Pioneering project in fight against climate change secures major funding boost

Pioneering project in fight against climate change secures major funding boost

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded £325,000 funding by Natural England as part of a project to trial the most effective ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The Trust’s Nature Returns Project in the Derwent catchment (formally known as Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change), part of the wider Derwent Living Forest Programme, has been awarded the funding to continue its partnership-led project for a further 12 months, and widen it out to new sites.

It’s one of six pioneering projects across England to receive a second phase of funding to restore landscapes and assess how carbon is captured and stored across different habitats such as grasslands, forests, wetlands and hedgerows.

Since the project began in January 2023, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been working to create connected woody habitats between the Northern and National Forests to allow movement of species in response to climate change. The team behind the project has also been developing an economically viable programme to support landowners to create and expand dynamic and resilient ecosystems.  

In the first phase of the project, the Trust was able to create and restore 269 hectares of habitat in the Derwent catchment by adopting a rewilding approach, engage with over 1,000 members of local communities including schools, community groups, landowners and managers, and over 2,500 hours of time were given by dedicated and hard working volunteers.

The additional funding will enable the Trust to extend the project across three new sites (Gang Mine, Wyver Lane and Postern Mill), whilst continuing to engage with landowners and deliver more wooded habit creation and natural flood management works throughout the catchment. 

nature returns partners

Ellie Field, Landscape Recovery Manager for Derwent Valley at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“We are thrilled to have been awarded an extension to our Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change grant to allow us to carry on the important work we are doing as part of our Derwent Forest Programme.

“We are committed to addressing the UK’s climate and ecological emergencies and believe that joining together rewilding and natural capital is the best mechanism to provide nature-based solutions (such as flood and drought risk reduction), reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote carbon sequestration.

“As part of our vision for the Derwent Living Forest, we want to see an additional 30,000ha of wooded habitat in the catchment by 2050 as a means of addressing the urgent issues that the catchment and its communities face. Creating or restoring semi-natural habitats and providing the most dynamic and resilient ecosystems possible will be critical as climate impacts increase on our fragmented landscapes.”  

The Nature Returns programme is led by Natural England, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst. The programme is co-sponsored by Defra and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and is funded through the HM Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund and Defra’s Net Zero Fund.

Analysis and information from the Derwent Living Forest Nature Returns Project and other Nature Returns project sites will be used to better inform habitat creation and contribute to tackling climate change.  Each project will also look at how best to blend public and private sources of funding to support further delivery of their landscape-scale plans for improving the natural environment. 

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is working alongside project partners to expand scientific evidence on greenhouse gas emissions, create sustainable funding opportunities for landscape scale projects, and provide additional data to inform the development of robust carbon standards, such as the Woodland Carbon Code and the Peatland Code. 

The Project will run until March 2025. Find out more about the Derwent Living Forest Programme.