Bittern flying by Elizabeth Dack

£5 million government grant to restore peatlands in the Fens

Tuesday 03 October, 2023

As part of the Fens East Peat Partnership (FEPP), we are excited to announce we have been awarded a substantial “Restoration Grant” by Government as part of their progressive Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme. 


The Government is investing over £50 million in peat restoration, building on its pledge to restore approximately 35,000 hectares of peatland in England by the end of this Parliament, and leave the environment in a better state for future generations. 


87% of England’s peatlands, including lowland peatlands are degraded, damaged and dried out, emitting tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. The funding from government will help restore these environments, in turn helping protect wildlife and restore their critical ability to manage water quality and reduce the risk of flooding.  


The Fens East Peat Partnership has been awarded over £5m to deliver restoration of peatlands in the Fens. The Government's Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme “Restoration Grant” will enable the partnership to deliver restoration activity on at least 16 sites across Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. This work will build on the successful FEPP Discovery project activity to develop site restoration plans, how to overcome barriers and sharing knowledge gained about lowland peat restoration in the Fens. 

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust are leading the project on behalf of The National Trust, Natural England, us at NWT, RSPB and the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire. We have been working together across the Fens for many years through the Fens for the Future partnership. 


Tammy Smalley, Head of Conservation for Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is from The Wash Fens, and so says, ‘It is brilliant that the importance of lowland peatlands in addressing the biodiversity and climate change crises has been recognised, including the role of submerged peats. This Restoration Grant will enable us to recover natural systems while working with our neighbours and other sectors to ensure the area delivers towards sustainable food security and better integrated water management. The FEPP Team and Partners have done a cracking job so far, which I thank them for, as The Fens is a very special place to me on a personal level. Let’s crack on, and together, get on the road to bringing nature back and achieving net zero – acting local, addressing global issues.’  


Matt Jones, our Wilder Landscapes Manager, said: ‘This funding from Natural England will allow us to continue work with a number of private landowners in west Norfolk, progressing some exciting and extensive wetland restoration and creation projects that will start to address historic wetland losses at a landscape scale. As well as offering climate change benefits, potential protection against flooding and improving water quality, a landscape filled with healthy peat-based wetlands will teem with life. It will support many species which are scarce in Norfolk including dragonflies and damselflies, wading birds, bitterns, cranes and otters.’ 


Alan Kell states, “We are thrilled that the National Trust’s Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve is one of the places that will benefit from this significant peatland restoration grant. The work this grant will enable will not only help safeguard and enhance the beauty of the fenland scenery for generations to come, but we will also use this as an opportunity to increase public awareness, of the significant role peat has to play in tackling the climate crisis. As well as social and cultural benefits, which include enhancing the biodiversity of the natural spaces where people can spend time to connect with nature for their health and well-being. Peatland restoration projects such as this one will also enable us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase our carbon capture and ensure we’re more resilient to the changing climate.”  


Lorna Parker of the Great Fen, WTBCN, ‘We are excited to be a partner in this project, developing paludiculture as a tool for conserving peat in a working landscape and protecting wildlife for the future.’ 


‘The Fens East Peat Partnership is a fantastic example of close partnership working to build the scale of lowland peat restoration work in the Fens’. Catherine Weightman, Natural England 


David Rogers, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Lakenheath Fen said: “The grant will hugely benefit biodiversity at our nature reserve. The funding allows us to create new fen and grassland on the dry arable fields whilst preserving carbon and establishing peat forming vegetation. In addition, raising the water levels helps previously created habitats stay wetter for longer making the whole site more climate resilient. The restored habitats will help to support a wide variety of species. These will include birds such as Lapwing and Redshank, Cranes, Yellow Wagtail, Skylark, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings – it could even encourage rare birds such as the Spotted Crake to spend time here. Other species such as Water Voles, Otter and a range of aquatic plants and invertebrates will thrive and flourish in new wetland areas. This is an exciting time for all of us, and we are thrilled to be part of this peatland restoration project.” 

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