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£11.7m funding for projects to restore bogs, rivers and rare mussels

Three schemes in the North East and Scottish Borders, Cumbria and South Yorkshire will share the EU Life funding.

Freshwater pearl mussels

Projects to restore lowland bogs, river, estuary and coastal habitat and rare freshwater pearl mussels are receiving a share of more than £11 million EU funding.

The three schemes over the next five years in protected areas in the North East and Scottish Borders, Cumbria and South Yorkshire are aimed at tackling the nature and climate crises, government conservation agency Natural England said.

A project in north-east England and the Scottish borders will receive £5.8 million to improve the condition of more than 49,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of habitat and water quality in the River Tweed catchment and estuary and the Northumberland coast.

The project aims to support key over-wintering birds such as purple sandpiper, as well as Arctic tern breeding colonies, help control invasive species and improve visitor management.

A conservation scheme in Cumbria, to increase the population of critically endangered freshwater pearl mussels along parts of the River Kent in the county, is receiving £3.8 million.

The threatened mussels can filter up to 50 litres of water a day, improving the water quality for species such as fish, eels and otters.

A third project aims to restore and improve 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of degraded raised bogs and trial innovative payment schemes for carbon storage in the Thorne Moor Special Area of Conservation  in South Yorkshire.

The scheme, focusing on the largest area of carbon-rich lowland raised peatbog in England, one of western Europe’s rarest and threatened habitats, is receiving £2.1 million.

They will be delivered in partnerships led by Natural England and funded by EU Life, having bid for funding from the European conservation scheme before it closed to British projects.

Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said: “These innovative partnership projects present highly tangible examples of the efforts being made to protect and restore critically endangered species and habitats.

“From the conservation of freshwater pearl mussels in Cumbria to storing carbon in lowland raised bog in South Yorkshire, these new nature recovery projects are among a series of initiatives through which Natural England is taking the lead in tackling the biodiversity crisis and climate change challenge.

“I’m hopeful that these nature recovery projects will inspire more action across the country, enabling more people to enjoy wildlife-rich natural landscapes into the future.”

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