Ribble Rivers Trust partnership secures a grant of £660,100 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund

A partnership project led by Ribble Rivers Trust has been awarded a grant of £660,100 from the £40 million second round of the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a multi-million pound boost for green jobs and nature recovery.

Ninety nature projects across England have been awarded grants from £68,100 to £1,950,000 to create and retain over 2,500 green jobs. Work will start on more than 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall, ensuring almost a million trees will be planted. This will consolidate the Government’s commitment to treble the rate of  tree planting across England by the end of this Parliament.

In Lancashire, the HEAL project partnership will create and restore habitats whilst improving health and wellbeing across the Ribble, Lune and Wyre Catchments. This suite of projects will safeguard jobs and connect people with nature through education, training, recreation and volunteering opportunities. The project was developed using the Ribble Rivers Trust’s data and evidence developed in partnership with the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council’s Public Health team, to help target neighbourhoods where the work will have the biggest positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as improving and protecting nature in Lancashire.

The project will create and manage a range of habitats from new woodlands containing 55,000 trees, a wetland, heathland restoration and grassland management, as well as new footpaths and micro tree nurseries.  Local People can get involved in all aspects of the project, providing opportunities to get out and be active in nature, no matter what level of knowledge or experience that have of the outdoors.

The project is particularly keen to encourage new volunteers to get involved in activities like growing tree saplings to help create new woodlands of the future, tree planting and guided walks to help gather trees seeds and control invasive species, as well as ecological surveys.

More than 20 schools and communities will be involved across the county. Importantly, the HEAL Project will also support and create jobs and deliver training in conservation skills. Project partners include Lune Rivers Trust, Wyre Rivers Trust, The Prospects Foundation, Forest of Bowland AONB, Freshwater Biological Association, Hyndburn Borough Council, Pendle Borough Council and Lancaster University.

Ribble Rivers Trust CEO, Jack Spees, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded this funding. There has been a growing momentum across the county, even prior to the pandemic, but even more so since, as we have all begun to appreciate  our local green and blue spaces more. volunteers in Haslam Park

“The last 18 months has challenged everyone, and we feared that this would lead to a slowdown in action to improve our environment.  However, thanks to this funding, the work to create, improve and protect the spaces that have been so vital through the pandemic will continue.

“We are particularly excited by  the opportunities the project and funding will provide for people to gain access to nature, taking active roles in improving their local environment, whilst gaining knowledge, skills and work experience in the environmental sector.

“The partnership can’t wait to get started on this amazing project that will improve our rivers, improve people’s health and wellbeing and get more people active and enjoying the beauty of nature on their doorstep.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. Connecting people with nature is another priority theme: by increasing access to nature and greenspaces, projects will support both physical and mental wellbeing. The Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“The diverse and ambitious projects being awarded funding today will help environmental organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and crucially, help more of the public to access and enjoy the outdoors.

“Through our £80 million Fund, we are on track to support over 2,500 jobs, plant almost a million trees and increase nature recovery at a huge scale across the country, which will help us deliver against our 25 Year Environment Plan.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“From wetland restoration, to creating wildlife-rich habitat for bees, it is vital that we value, protect and rebuild our natural heritage. This new funding will not only allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, but it will increase awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future.”

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“By supporting jobs from Northumberland to Somerset, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help deliver a nature positive future. The fund supports young people to develop skills needed to protect nature, build back greener and prepare for climate impacts, like floods and heatwaves.”

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

“Our environmental and conservation charity sector does an incredible job in protecting, improving and restoring the natural environment for the benefit of communities and the economy.”

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:

“This funding will help deliver thousands more trees and help us achieve our target of trebling tree planting rates in England by the end of the Parliament. We need to work towards net zero emissions by 2050; to address biodiversity loss; to better connect people with nature; and to create more green jobs in doing so. Trees are central to this and the projects being awarded these grants will have a hugely important role in helping us realise these objectives.”

A full list of awards is available to view at:


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