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Cairngorms forest expansion project nets share of £5m fund


By Niall Harkiss

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Land management partnership, Cairngorms Connect, is among over forty projects to have been awarded a share of £5 million from the annual Nature Restoration Fund.

The Scottish Government fund, managed by NatureScot, funds projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities. The projects awarded are taking practical steps to help against the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and restore Scotland’s natural environment.

Cairngorms Connect, who aim to enhance habitats, species and ecological processes across the vast area within the Cairngorms National Park, have been awarded a share of the funding to aid forest expansion by planting of Montane Willow and overall forest enhancement to improve biodiversity. The fund will also support the Cairngorms Connect River restoration project at River Tromie.

The fund will support the Cairngorms Connect River restoration project at River Tromie. Photo: Bob Murray, Rosewood, Nethy Bridge.
The fund will support the Cairngorms Connect River restoration project at River Tromie. Photo: Bob Murray, Rosewood, Nethy Bridge.

The Spey Catchment Initiative also benefited, receiving an £80,215 award. The project aims to install 80 to 100 large natural woody structures within a 3.6-mile stretch of the upper Spey to improve in-stream habitats, will benefit fish and river ecology and reduce flood risks.

The work will also boost climate change resilience by creating cooler refuge areas to help aquatic life cope better with the threat of rising water temperatures.

For a full list of all 46 projects, visit the NatureScot website.

It is the second year of the project. In 2021, 54 projects were awarded funding. The Scottish Government announced an expansion to the fund in 2021, committing at least a further £55 million over the next four years, with at least £12.5 million annually.

Biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said: “We know that transformative change is needed in order to protect and restore terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity in Scotland. That’s why we established the £65 million Nature Restoration Fund for projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas.

“These diverse, innovative projects are already bringing benefits across the country – not only to the environment, but also to the health and wellbeing of local communities.

“The Nature Restoration Fund is just one of the ways we are demonstrating our commitment to tackling biodiversity loss and restoring nature for future generations. Later this year we will publish an ambitious new biodiversity strategy which aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot CEO, said: “We are all now more aware than ever before of the urgency of the climate change emergency. But there is hope. By restoring nature, protecting and enhancing habitats and safeguarding marine life, we can secure a better future for nature and for ourselves.

“Scotland is taking action now to meet the huge challenges and pressures that nature is facing; it is individual projects like the ones funded today that will make the difference and set us on the road to recovery.

“Climate change needs nature-based solutions, not only to help us reach net zero by 2045 but also to create a healthier, more resilient Scotland.”


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