Peatland Progress Heritage Horizon Award

Peatland Progress Heritage Horizon Award

Great Fen sunset Martin Parsons 

The announcement of a Heritage Horizon award by the National Lottery Heritage Fund means that the Great Fen can continue pioneering work of peatland preservation vital for combatting climate change and reducing carbon emissions

Today, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a Heritage Horizon award of more than £8 million to a visionary carbon storing peatlands project based in the Fens, run by The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Peatland Progress: A New Vision for the Fens will tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and the anxieties of the next generation head-on through the purchase of a parcel of land, bringing together the north and south ‘halves’ of the Great Fen.

The partnership project will work to develop a model of agricultural production that inspires and changes farming practice on peat soils across the UK. This innovative approach to farming on peat soils will keep carbon locked in, improve water quality, transform the landscape and secure the future for people, soils and wildlife of the Fens.  Focusing on sustainable wet farming, the ambitious project will help prevent soil erosion by locking in carbon. It will offer hope for the future of farming and will be a mainstay of local prosperity, wellbeing, employment and Covid-19 recovery.

Peatland Progress is one of five ambitious and transformational projects across the UK to be awarded Heritage Horizon Awards today. Grants of up to £12.4m have been awarded to three environment projects, including Peatland Progress, the UK’s first Marine Park in Plymouth, and a large-scale partnership project to preserve the outstanding Cairngorm landscape. The International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool will also receive funding for major redevelopment in Liverpool docks and Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens will be restored back to a new, reimagined use.

The Heritage Horizon Awards were launched in 2019, thanks to funding from National Lottery players, to support ambitious, innovative and transformational projects that will revolutionise UK heritage. These awards have become even more important since the pandemic, as they will transform lives and economies, put the UK at the lead of major environmental, cultural and heritage projects and show confidence in the heritage sector to rebuild and thrive.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:  “I am delighted that we are announcing just over £8 million of support to the Peatland Progress project. This project is a highly innovative approach to peatland management, farming and restoration through collaboration with landowners, farmers, scientists and communities. It delivers transformative and ambitious ways of managing the Great Fen for people and wildlife, combatting climate change and carbon emissions.

“It is just one of five Heritage Horizon Awards to back big ideas and unlock enormous possibilities, following a year in which we have been focused on supporting heritage through the COVID emergency. All five projects announced today share qualities of huge ambition, significant collaboration and the prospect of life-changing benefits for people and places deserving of support from the National Lottery. This is an exciting day for the UK’s heritage.”

Kate Carver, Great Fen Project Manager, said: "The Wildlife Trust in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire's Great Fen is thrilled to be one of the Heritage Horizon projects selected by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Our project tackles some of the biggest challenges of the day - climate change, biodiversity loss and the anxieties of the next generation in our post Covid world. Peatland Progress will bring genuine improvement to people’s lives, and to make sure that happens we’ll be talking to our local communities over the next year to make sure we get it right.

"We want to bring communities into the heart of the Great Fen, showing people that climate change is being tackled on their doorstep and empowering them to take action. Achieving the Lottery award has been a massive team effort and the WTBCN Great Fen wants to say a huge 'Thankyou' to all its supporters and partners, and to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for sharing our vision and especially to the Lottery players. We have exciting times ahead!"

Heritage Fund Logo

Peatland Progress aims to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and the anxieties of the next generation head-on to:

  • Enable a once-in-a-generation opportunity to link together the north and south ‘halves’ of the Great Fen and safeguarding Woodwalton Fen’s irreplaceable biodiversity
  • Demonstrate sustainable wet farming at farm-scale, a UK first, preventing soil erosion, locking in carbon and giving hope to farmers and future farmers
  • Connect young people experiencing mental health issues, and their families, with nature, giving them the confidence to know that small changes can make a big difference, and hope in the face of Covid-19
  • Bring communities into the heart of the Great Fen, showing people that climate change is being tackled on their doorstep and empowering them to take action

Peatland Progress will raise transformation to new levels, completing a vast sustainable, vibrant, working wet landscape rich in wildlife, developing climate change science, to inspire and bring genuine improvement to people’s lives, and be a mainstay of local prosperity, wellbeing and employment for Covid-19 recovery.

The development stage

  • Develop climate change science and new sustainable land management systems for the fens
  • Link up and extend a vast sustainable working wet landscape rich in wildlife at the Great Fen
  • Open up more areas for people to enjoy
  • Connect young people with mental health issues and their families to nature, giving them the confidence to know that small changes can make a big difference, and bring hope in the face of Covid-19