Rewilding Challenge Fund Launched in Britain Ahead of UN Biodiversity Summit

It will fund one major terrestrial or marine project per year.

baby trees in a Scottish field
A former forest in Scotland is replanted with young seedlings.

Jozef Durok / Getty Images

Rewilding Britain says that it is time to "Think Big, Act Wild!" The organization is introducing a major new funding opportunity for large-scale rewilding projects, offering £100,000 (US$122,000) to fund one project each year that demonstrates the most potential to upscale rewilding of terrestrial or marine environments.

This fund, launched just ahead of the United Nations Biodiversity Summit (COP 15) taking place in Canada this month, helps to draw attention to the need not only for rewilding efforts, but also for efforts to finance the necessary work. One hundred ninety-six governments will meet at COP 15 to negotiate a landmark agreement to guide global action to protect biodiversity.

Rewilding Britain is calling for major nature recovery across 30% of Britain's land and seas by 2030. This includes core areas of native forest, peatland, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, and coastal areas across 5% of the country, with no loss of productive farmland. This new challenge fund will help move us closer toward those goals.

Enabling Solutions

Rewilding is increasingly recognized as a key nature-based solution to the global crises of climate and biodiversity that we face. And it can help in the social sphere, too; joined-up thinking generates community prosperity and togetherness.

Funding rewilding efforts is, of course, a crucial part of the puzzle. Channeling funds into work that must be done at landscape scale to redress the damage humanity has done is challenging but necessary. This new fund will help make major rewilding schemes more financially viable here in the British Isles.

The Rewilding Innovation Fund has already awarded more than £250,000 (US$305,000) to over 20 projects that range from carbon capture to seagrass restoration to a tree seeding experiment. Funding has also gone toward the development of rewilding strategies, a feasibility study, community consultation, and more.

The Rewilding Network now includes almost 900 members, covering more than 113,000 hectares of land and more than 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) of seas. These projects are demonstrating the extensive economic and social benefits of rewilding to local communities, as well as boosting biodiversity.

Eurasian eagle-owl
The Eurasian eagle-owl is one raptor making a comeback in Britain, thanks to rewilding efforts.

Philip Dumas / Getty Images

Seeking Applicants

Sara King, manager at Rewilding Britain, said: "We are absolutely delighted to launch the Rewilding Challenge Fund under the heading 'Think Big, Act Wild.' We're looking to scale up rewilding—a vital step if Britain is to achieve the goal of major nature restoration across 30% of the country's land and seas by 2030. We're really keen to hear from community groups who can join together to bid for ambitious, large-scale rewilding projects, as well as from the managers and users of large areas of land and sea."

Rewilding Britain is asking applicants from England, Scotland, and Wales, who are part of or eligible to join the network and who propose to rewild an area at least 1,000 hectares (10 square kilometers or 4 square miles) in size, to express their interest by January 17, 2023. Those projects that are shortlisted will be invited to submit a full application and a short presentation between January 27 and February 24, 2023. Results will be announced by the end of March. The selected project will be expected to deliver a clear plan, partnership, and proposal for raising the necessary funds and investment within two years.

If we are to meet rewilding goals globally, then the right investment is key. Governments, Indigenous groups, NGOs, landowners, and other stakeholders around the world must consider how we are to finance the key changes that we need to make to protect and restore crucial ecosystems now and in the years to come. (Even the Royal Family has been pressured to rewild some of their vast land holdings.)

This new challenge fund is one small but significant step in the right direction. It shows that, while investment may be lacking from the political sphere, there is huge will to drive change in other meaningful ways in the British Isles.

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  1. "Rewilding Challenge Fund." Rewilding Britain.