Funding for nature and our natural heritage is on a knife-edge and we could use your help. Can you spare a few minutes to remind the Heritage Lottery Fund how important a thriving natural world is to all of us?
Since the financial crash in 2008, spending on the environment has fallen. For example between 2010 and 2020 the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) budget will have declined by over 50% in real terms, with significant cuts also being felt across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Compounding this, public funding sources that have traditionally helped fund the creation of facilities to help people enjoy nature, set up nature reserves and conserve species at risk - are all in decline. And all this at a time when nature needs more help than ever.
Heritage Lottery Fund support for natural heritage
One of the most important public sources of funds for the natural environment across the UK is the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). HLF is one of the National Lottery good causes and receives its funding not from governments but from a portion of the money raised by people taking part in the National Lottery games and scratch cards.
HLF funding supports the work of conservation organisations right across the sector, like National Trust, Woodland Trust and The Wildlife Trusts. Here at RSPB, amongst other projects, it has enabled us to:
- Deliver a dedicated public engagement programme in Northern Ireland reaching out to 40 schools in County Down and County Armagh, young people, and members of the public to enthuse them around the reintroduction of red kites. To date there has been a fantastic response with people signing up as volunteers and reporting red kite sightings.
- Restore floodplain grazing marsh in Wales to help rare wildlife like lapwing, reed bunting, curlew and otters. Funding also enables more people of all ages to learn about and enjoy this special place.
- Support Project Puffin in Scotland, where 1,400 photographs of puffins carrying fish for their pufflings were sent in by the public and then analysed. All to help solve the mystery of why some puffin colonies in the UK are facing dramatic declines.
- Purchase Winterborne Downs nature reserve in Wiltshire, with a single HLF grant. We are restoring and recreating chalk downland to establish a rich habitat in the heart of the Wiltshire downs for the stone-curlew, and a suite of rare and vulnerable butterflies, plants and insects special to chalk soils. Each year since restoration began, the reserve has become better for nature, and the meadows buzzing with insects are a delight for visitors throughout the summer.
Unfortunately HLF funding is under pressure with increased demand and income falling from £300m to an anticipated £190m in 2018/19. With 25% of HLF funding going to natural environment, this means a reduction in support from £75m to £47.5m.
Whilst we understand the pressures on the National Lottery, we are really worried about the impact on nature at a time when other sources of funding are facing an uncertain future or already declining.
How you can help
HLF is asking for your views on how it should spend its money. Please help to remind them how important our natural heritage is, and how it needs continued funding, by taking part in their public consultation before 22 March.
The first question is the most important to answer as it asks you to say what 'heritage' means to you.
The rest of the questions are mostly tick boxes and you do not need to answer them all. Please note that once you start the consultation you cannot go back to previous answers, nor can you save it and come back to it. Your response will be sent automatically once you answer the final question and click the arrow.
There are two surveys, one for the public and one for people who work in the sector:
If you wish to jump straight to the shorter YouGov survey aimed at the general public, click here (Recommended Option).
If you wish to see both available surveys, click here.
You can make a big difference by taking part. Nature is in trouble and it needs all of us, and the right levels of investment, to save it.
Please do drop us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you have taken part so we can monitor the level of responses going through to HLF.
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