Endangered curlews, disappearing grasslands, blanket bog peat stores and threatened species of shark, skates and rays are set to benefit from an £11 million conservation grants pot, the Minister for Climate Change Julie James announced last week.

Nine new large projects that look after sites that are home to rare species join 17 medium sized projects, previously announced by National Lottery Heritage Fund in January, to benefit from round two of the Nature Networks Fund.

The Nature Networks Fund is funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

It is aimed at strengthening the resilience of Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites and supporting nature’s recovery.

The grant programme is also focused on encouraging communities across the country to get involved in nature conservation in their local areas.

In North Wales, Brecon and Montgomeryshire, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has been awarded £999,600 to roll out the ‘Wales Curlew Connections, Cysylltu Gylfinir Cymru’ project.

In Wales breeding curlew is predicted to be on the brink of extinction within the next decade unless action is taken. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust will work with the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, Curlew Country and the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority to deliver this project.

The project will cover up to seven Important Curlew Areas (ICAs) where there are opportunities to maximise curlew recovery including the Mynydd Hiraethog Site of Specical Scientific Interest (SSSI), Migneint-Arenig- Dduallt SSSI, Ruabon / Llantysilio Mountains and Minera SSSI.

Speaking about the projects more wideley, Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “This funding will help to facilitate the team Wales approach required to improve the condition and resilience of our protected sites network as well as creating networks of people actively engaged with nature.

“I am pleased to see the wide range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine projects that will make an important contribution to the delivery of our Nature Networks Programme promoting action to help us achieve our 30 by 30 target and becoming nature positive. Given the success of this scheme I aim to announce further funding rounds later this year.”

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said: “This impressive variety of projects demonstrates both the ambition of the Nature Networks Fund and the scale of the challenge facing us all.

“It’s a priority for The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales to protect the environment. This is why we support initiatives that help us meet our national nature recovery targets and mitigate the effects of climate change on heritage.

“Through partnerships such as this, we invest in work that helps halt and reverse the loss and decline of habitats and species and allow people to connect with our unique natural heritage.”

Ruth Jenkins, Head of Natural Resource Management Policy at Natural Resources Wales said: “We’re delighted to see these projects supported through this fund, each driving forward the practical action needed to address what is one of the most urgent challenges of our times.

“These successful projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of land owners and organisations, delivering benefits for wildlife, local economies, adaptation to climate change and the wellbeing of those living and working in the surrounding communities.

“They will also each make a key contribution to achieving the wider ambition to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, and our shared commitment to protect and effectively manage 30 per cent of our land and seas by 2030. We look forward to seeing the projects come to life over the weeks and months ahead.”