Natural England secures Heritage Lottery Fund support for 99 learning placements in National Nature Reserves project

5 Jun 2013 01:40 PM

Natural England has received initial support¹ from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme² for its “Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills using National Nature Reserves” project. The project aims to develop a pool of 99 recruits to look after England’s most valuable wildlife by teaching them environment heritage skills. The proposal is for a four-year programme starting in May 2014.

HLF’s provisional award of £780,000 to this important initiative includes development funding of £39,200 to help Natural England progress their plans over the next six months and to secure these funds.

Natural England’s innovative project will train 99 individuals in nature conservation skills and knowledge that are currently in short supply. This will include surveying, identification and recording of more difficult taxonomic groups of species such as invertebrates and lower plants. The project aims to recruit older, or part-qualified, individuals who are new to the specialist area but fall outside existing funding opportunities. National Nature Reserves (NNRs) will provide a fantastic training ground to nurture and develop skills which are essential to the future of conservation, and to obtaining a better understanding of our biodiversity.

Recruits will have an opportunity to work alongside Natural England’s Reserve Managers, learning from their expert knowledge and from other specialists inside and outside the organisation. The opportunities will consist of a combination of three-month placements and longer term 18-month apprenticeships which will offer the successful candidates a land-based diploma qualification at the end of their period. These 99 trainees will be deployed to help pass on skills and knowledge among local communities that support the work of NNRs, and to other partner organisations which Natural England works with to manage these sites.

There are 224 National Nature Reserves in England, 143 of which are managed entirely or in part by Natural England and cover some 66,000ha. The NNRs include some of England's most important and rich sites for wildlife and geology. Almost all NNRs are accessible and provide great opportunities for people to experience nature close up.

John Torlesse, Natural England’s Principal Adviser for National Nature Reserves, said: “We’re thrilled and delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. Our project will provide 99 individuals with a terrific opportunity to really make a difference to looking after our natural environment, as well as strengthening the skills base for our National Nature Reserves and other precious sites for the future. They will be nature’s ambassadors, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Notes to editors

  • ¹ Initial support plus development funding means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and that HLF believe it has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so this is an endorsement of outline proposals. The project will submit fully developed proposals to secure a firm award at a later date.
  • ² Launched in July 2009, Skills for the Future is an HLF programme supporting organisations across the UK to create new training places. HLF has awarded grants totalling £26.8m under this programme enabling high-quality work-based training, the development of new qualifications and capacity building in the sector.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with £5.4bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk. For more information please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on 020 7591 6036 / 07973 613 820.

About National Nature Reserves

The first NNRs emerged in the post-war years alongside the early National Parks, and have continued to grow since then. NNRs were initially established to protect valuable wildlife sites and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research and study. Their purpose has widened since and, as well as delivering important nature conservation goals, NNRs make a substantial contribution to enabling the public, schools and specialist audiences to experience and enjoy England's natural heritage.

For further information, contact

Michelle Hawkins, press officer, 0300 060 1109 / michelle.hawkins@naturalengland.org.uk