25 years of support

Blog post by Ellen Kinsley  on 09 Nov, 2019

The Wildlife Trusts' Partnerships Manager Ellen Kinsley looks at some of the highlights from 25 years of support from The National Lottery.


This November, The National Lottery celebrates its 25th birthday! To mark this special anniversary, we’re reflecting on some of the amazing things that have been achieved for wildlife, wild places and people across the UK, thanks to the support of The National Lottery.

Barn owl chicks, © Ulster Wildlife

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscapes Partnership, © Chris Puddephat

Since the first draw in 1994, The National Lottery has raised over £40 billion for good causes, including more than 840 fantastic Wildlife Trust projects. This funding has been crucial for projects on land, at sea and within communities all over the UK. Looking at all of these projects together, the positive difference they’ve made for wildlife is huge!

On land 

From farmland to forests, scrubland to city centres, Wildlife Trusts are working to ensure every space in the UK is used to help nature. This is the basis of our vision for a Nature Recovery Network, where wild places are connected and wildlife can move freely. This needs us to think big, looking at the health of an entire landscape as well as the individual, precious habitats within it. National Lottery funding has helped many Wildlife Trust projects do just this.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust was able to purchase Pope’s Marsh in 2013, connecting the nature reserves at Cley and Salthouse Marshes to create an 8km stretch of coastline for wildlife! And one of the largest landscape-scale restoration projects in Europe is underway in the north west Highlands. The Scottish Wildlife Trust-led Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership is bringing a range of environmental and economic benefits through a suite of 28 projects - including expanding and connecting native woodlands, surveying fish in freshwater lochans, and educating schoolchildren about the area’s iconic natural environment.

Barn owl chicks, © Ulster Wildlife

Barn owl chicks, © Ulster Wildlife

Over the last 25 years, The National Lottery has also funded many projects focusing on specific species, helping us turn things around for some of our most threatened wildlife. This includes Ulster Wildlife, who worked with 1,300 landowners to save Northern Ireland’s barn owls and put up 71 nest boxes to provide safe places for these owls to rear their young. As a result of the project, grassland habitat the size of 40 football pitches was made available for these brilliant birds.

At sea 

Around half the UK’s wildlife lives in the sea, from microscopic plankton to mighty whales. Support from The National Lottery has helped us raise awareness of our wonderful marine life, enthusing thousands of people to join us in calling for better protection for our seas.

In 2012, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust embarked on a joint project called Making Waves, which helped thousands of children learn about marine wildlife and the need to protect it.

Today, National Lottery support is helping Living Seas Wales make a big splash! Over the last year, Living Seas Live! roadshows have brought thousands of people closer to wonderful Welsh wildlife through activities, talks and virtual reality technology.   

As we celebrate our landmark 25th birthday, we are enormously proud to have funded hundreds of projects led by Wildlife Trusts across the UK. Through our conversations with National Lottery players, we know that natural heritage is incredibly important to them, and our partnerships with Wildlife Trusts ensure that it will be preserved for future generations, to discover and enjoy for years to come.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Within our communities  

People are part of nature; everything we value ultimately comes from it and everything we do has an impact on it. To secure a Wilder Future, it’s essential that communities are connected to their local environment and take action to protect it.

National Lottery funding has helped Wildlife Trusts support people to improve their wellbeing through getting closer to nature. Back in 2005, funding enabled Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to offer a programme of volunteering in nature for people with mental health problems. And now, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s ecotherapy project, Myplace is helping people connect with nature to learn new skills and improve their physical health and mental wellbeing.

Since 2016, Our Bright Future has empowered thousands of young people to take action for their environment. All across the UK, young people aged 11-24 are leading change in their communities – creating new green spaces, bringing people together and improving their local environment. Through taking part, young people gain skills, confidence and practical experience – and boost their wellbeing at the same time.

Over the last quarter of a century, support from The National Lottery has made a huge, lasting difference for people and wildlife all over the UK. 

We have a lot still to do to make sure nature recovers – find out how you can help secure a Wilder Future for us all, here.

Header image: Cley Marshes, by Richard Osbourne

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