Protecting habitats and species

Otters crossing warning sign at causeway on Uist
Alan Robertson

Projects to restore rivers in the Cairngorms and protect the rainforest in Argyll are among the initiatives that will share £7.6 million through the latest round of the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund.

This round is focussed on supporting large scale projects, including multi-year projects that run up to 2026.

For the first time, it also includes development funding to help organisations bring big restoration projects to the point of delivery, addressing a key capacity gap in the sector.

The £65 million fund was a key part of the Bute House Agreement and multi-year funding across this parliament was announced on Nature Day at COP26.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:

“The Nature Restoration Fund is Scotland’s largest ever fund for nature and since we launched it at COP26 in Glasgow we have already invested over £20 million. This is having a real impact across Scotland, restoring rivers and floodplains, regenerating our forests and recovering our wildlife populations.

“This is just a part of our commitment to invest at least an additional £500 million in the natural economy over the course of this parliament. Responsible private investment in restoring Scotland’s natural environment will also be essential to deliver our biodiversity strategy and meet our nature and climate goals. We are working hard to ensure that we secure the necessary investment for a nature positive future.”

Chair of NatureScot Mike Cantlay said:

“This is a critical time for nature and it’s vital we use the new targets from COP27, COP15 and the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy as a catalyst for ambitious action against biodiversity loss and climate change. The Nature Restoration Fund is helping us do exactly that, and we’re excited to be supporting a range of large-scale projects that have the power to transform nature, helping us reach our goals of protecting 30% of our land and seas by 2030 and restoring biodiversity by 2045. It’s projects like these that will help secure a nature-rich future for Scotland.”


The projects receiving funding include:

  • Cairngorms Connect, Delivering a Vision for Natural Rivers and Floodplains at Insh Marshes: This RSPB led project will adopt nature-based solutions to minimise the need for engineering intervention, reducing flood risks, complementing other restoration work in the Cairngorms Connect partnership area and resulting in the restoration of freshwater habitats and species.
  • Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust, Saving Argyll’s Rainforest: This project will develop plans to undertake rhododendron control in Mid Argyll and build on existing relationships with private landowners, and establish new ones, to help achieve this.
  • Green Action Trust’s Leven River Parks Nature Network development phase project will work towards creating a nature network using a new active travel network as a connecting spine, linking areas of semi-natural habitat and supporting surface water management as part of the Leven River Parks project.

NatureScot will publish the full list of projects to be awarded Transforming Nature funding on its website early next year.

The Transforming Nature round invited applications for projects over £250,000. The next application call for the £25,000 to £250,000 Helping Nature stream is expected to be in early 2023. The next application call for the over £250,000 Transforming Nature stream is expected to be in mid-2023.

Scotland's draft biodiversity strategy was published on 13 December.

During COP26, the Scottish Government committed to developing a values-led and high-integrity market for natural capital and Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital were published in March.