Good news for chalk streams

Good news for chalk streams

The Chiltern Society & Chilterns Conservation Board receive grant of £294,000 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The Chiltern Society and the Chilterns Conservation Board’s project: “Chalk Streams and wetland meadows: guarding the irreplaceable for people and nature” has been awarded a grant from the government’s £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.#

The grant will fund a suite of schemes developed by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project (CCSP) focussing on chalk streams and wetland habitats across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The work will combine practical restoration and enhancement with education and engagement projects. The Chilterns Conservation Board and the Chiltern Society, two key partners of the CCSP, will be working together to deliver this exciting project.

The grant will enable the creation of two jobs with the Chiltern Society, and increases the capacity and resilience of other NGOs and voluntary groups, including Revive the Wye, Benson Environment Group and Chiltern Rangers CIC. By connecting nature and people, we aim to secure a healthy future for chalk streams and for the people, communities and businesses of both the Chilterns AONB, and nearby urban areas.

The Chilterns’ chalk streams are a globally rare and threatened habitat and a critical component of our natural capital: they support a wide diversity of plants and animals, boast a rich, cultural heritage, provide opportunities for recreation and relaxation as well as providing fresh water to local communities. Yet our chalk streams are widely regarded as the most threatened, suffering from the impacts of pollution, high water use, urban development invasive species and climate change. The public is largely unaware of their significance and value in contributing to the health of local people and to the Chilterns natural environment.

Dr. Elaine King, Chief Executive Officer, The Chilterns Conservation Board said: “We are delighted to be awarded this funding, which creates two jobs with a key partner, the Chiltern Society, and increases the capacity and resilience of the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project and other local organisations.  By connecting nature and people, we aim to secure a healthy future for chalk streams and for the people, communities and businesses of both the Chilterns AONB, and nearby urban areas.”

Tom Beeston, Chiltern Society Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be working in such close partnership with the Chilterns Conservation Board and other partners on this critical project. It provides a much needed and immediate boost in activity of works to protect our internationally rare and endangered chalk stream habitats. Longer term, it facilitates the building of volunteer capacity to continue that much needed protection and awareness building for chalk streams and wetlands over the coming decades.”

In the first phase of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Government announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change.  The fund will be delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The sheer breadth and potential of these projects to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create employment is tremendously exciting. It is a key first step to helping the nation to build back greener from coronavirus.

“I encourage environmental organisations to keep abreast of updates around the fund so we can work together to address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change to create and retain jobs, helping the conservation sector to contribute to our green recovery.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we are distributing the Green Recovery Challenge Fund on behalf of Defra and working alongside our partners at Natural England and the Environment Agency. We are committed to supporting the nature and environment sector quickly and effectively through this Fund.”

Image: River Chess at Latimer, July 2020 Credit: Allen Beechey

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