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11 July, 2020

Nature fund's latest £1.8m to save Scotland’s most threatened plants and wildlife

Nature fund's latest £1.8m to save Scotland’s most threatened plants and wildlife: CREDIT RSPB FOR THIS IMAGE  Eurasian Curlew - Adult foraging in coastal pools - Aberlady Bay

Projects to restore part of the River Tweed’s mosaic of wetlands and natural woodland; help protect wading birds of global conservation concern in the Clyde Valley; and tackle the notoriously destructive invasive plant Japanese knotweed are among the latest recipients in the Scottish Government's Biodiversity Challenge Fund.

Following delays resulting from the COVID-19 situation, more than £1.8m funding for sixteen projects is currently being finalised. Investment in ‘green recovery’ is one of the most cost effective ways of making our communities sustainable and more resilient, while driving inclusive economic development.

Successful projects include Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust’s Endrick Legacy Project, awarded nearly £100,000 to help tackle a wide range of highly-destructive invasive species, including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, American mink and American signal crayfish. Understood to be one of the greatest threats to the beauty and variety of our nature, damage by invasive species is estimated to cost the Scottish economy £300m each year.

More than £100,000 has also been awarded to the charity Tweed Forum in plans to restore a previously straightened part of the Little Yarrow tributary of the River Tweed, creating a natural, meandering river channel, within a 12 hectare floodplain, and creating new woodland and wetland habitats for a wide range of wildlife.

In the Clyde Valley, RSPB - awarded nearly £90,000 - will work with landowners to improve the survival rates and breeding sites of upland wading birds of global concern, including the lapwing, curlew and oystercatcher.

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund specifically encourages applicants with innovative projects that improve biodiversity and address the impact of climate change, by increasing the resilience of our most at-risk habitats and species; and creating large areas of brand new habitat. The fund is in its second year with 21 projects at a total value of £2.6m supported in the first round.  So far, the fund’s achievements include:

  • Over 20,000 trees planted in a variety of habitats
  • Over 7000m2 of grassland improved with 620m2 seeded with wildflowers and 85m of hedges planted
  • 417 hectares of habitat managed to improve habitat for curlews
  • 3 wetland areas restored, 33 ponds and scrapes (shallow depressions which seasonally hold water) created, and over 1,500m2 of terrestrial features created to benefit amphibians and reptiles
  • Alpine heath restored with 200 dwarf shrub Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi plants transplanted

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives, but it has also presented us with a chance to re-imagine how we approach the Scotland around us, and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy.   

“The dual emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss have of course not gone away and must form a central part of our recovery. These Biodiversity Challenge Fund awards will help pioneering work to restore our habitats, protect our species and promote natural solutions in support of our green recovery and net-zero ambitions, channelling much needed funding into our economy, securing jobs and developing employment skills at what is a crucial time for nature and for people.”

SNH Chief Executive, Francesca Osowska, said:

“As lockdown conditions lift, green recovery projects like the Biodiversity Challenge Fund put nature, and nature-based solutions, at the heart of rebuilding our economy. 

“But it’s not just about conservation - enriching our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency too. People know that climate change is a big issue but not as many know that biodiversity loss is also a global and generational threat to human well-being.  

“Nature is at the heart of what we do, and we will continue to deliver the transformational change needed to bring a nature-rich, sustainable and more economically secure future for Scotland.”

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund adds to the many millions of pounds of Scottish Government funding delivered through the Scottish Rural Development Programme and other sources to support biodiversity and help to deliver Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy.

Contact information

Cat Synnot

Notes to editors

For broadcast use: soundclip attached of brief interview with Dr Kath Leys, SNH's Head of Biodiversity and Geodiversity

Please credit RSPB for downloadable 'hero' image of curlew



Funding awarded (£)

Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA)

Cairngorms Wetlands


Dee District Salmon Fishery Board

Garbh Allt & Upper Muick River Restoration Project


Galloway Fisheries Trust

Water of Luce and Tarf Water headwaters climate resilience fish project


Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust

The Endrick Legacy Project


RSPB Scotland

Clyde Valley Waders - Enhancing Landscapes in South West Scotland


RSPB Scotland

Enhance, Create and Pollinate - creating pollinator friendly habitats across Scotland


RSPB Scotland (on behalf of Inner Forth Futures Partnership)

Inner Forth Futures Wetland Habitat Network


Spey Fishery Board for the Spey Catchment Initiative

Re-wooding the River Calder


Scottish Wildlife Trust

Protecting and enhancing species rich grassland


Trees for Life

West Affric Montane Woodland Habitat Expansion


Tweed Forum

Upper Yarrow Landscape Initiative


Woodland Trust Scotland

Eisg Brachaidh Biodiversity Restoration Project


Woodland Trust Scotland

Loch Arkaig – Glen Mallie Forest Edge Restoration


Forth Rivers Trust

Revive the Allan


North Isles Landscape Partnership

North Isles Habitat Management and Restoration Project


*Covid restrictions have led to delays in finalising some project details and we remain in wider discussions with one further project.   

The aim of the Biodiversity Challenge Fund is to enable targeted action for priority habitats and species, accelerating efforts that will help Scotland meet its international biodiversity commitments. Creating a nature-rich future is an important part of our response to climate change.

Fulfilling commitments made in the 2018 & 2019 Programmes for Government to establish and then to extend a Biodiversity Challenge Fund, in summer 2019 Scottish Natural Heritage commenced administering investments of around £1.8 million to create and improve habitats for key species and encourage increased access to nature over the following 2 years. With a number of additional projects from the first round subsequently receiving funding offers (£0.8m), the latest announcement marks a boost to the total funding that has been made available to the Biodiversity Challenge Fund to just over £4m.

The fund is supporting projects that are:

  • Ambitious and will make a demonstrable, and measurable, impact
  • Seek to address the drivers of biodiversity change with action preferably focused on causes rather than symptoms
  • Make connections on the ground and link actions and/ or projects, increasing resilience in those habitats and species most at risk.

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig


CREDIT RSPB FOR THIS IMAGE  Eurasian Curlew - Adult foraging in coastal pools - Aberlady Bay

CREDIT RSPB FOR THIS IMAGE Eurasian Curlew - Adult foraging in coastal pools - Aberlady Bay

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Kath Leys interview soundclip BCF

Kath Leys interview soundclip BCF

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BCF Giant hogweed Loch Lomond and Fisheries Trust

BCF Giant hogweed Loch Lomond and Fisheries Trust

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Lapwing  - (C) SNH/Lorne Gill: Available for one-off use

Lapwing - (C) SNH/Lorne Gill

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Oystercatcher ©Lorne Gill SNH

Oystercatcher ©Lorne Gill SNH

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