Some of England’s most rare and threatened species are to be supercharged on the road to recovery thanks to a multi-million-pound grant scheme.  

The Rainforest Lichen Recovery project here in the south west has been awarded a share of £14.5 million by Natural England to help recover a number of species across the region.

Rare plants and wildlife, such as the adonis butterfly and large Atlantic pocket-moss set to benefit from efforts to improve habitats. 

The Species Recovery Programme Capital Grant Scheme supports targeted action to recover our most endangered species. The funding will support propagation, captive rearing and translocations and fine-tuning habitat conditions.

England’s wildlife is facing extreme pressures such as, habitat fragmentation, climate change and invasive species, have created huge declines, with average species abundance falling by 52%.

Orange-tinted fringe lichen - Credit: Dave Lamacraft, Plantlife
(Orange-tinted fringe lichen - Credit: Dave Lamacraft, Plantlife)

The Rainforest Lichen Recovery project will address threats to populations of 21 species of lichens and mosses in rainforest habitats across the south west of England. Partnership working between Plantlife, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust will apply rainforest restoration techniques on 12 sites in the region.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said: “Wildlife is in drastic decline all around us and now England is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, with 15 percent of species at risk of becoming extinct.  

“But this can be turned around – we’ve seen populations of bitterns’ flourish, recovery of the fen raft spider and water voles successfully reintroduced to their native habitat. It’s crucial that we continue to take ambitious action to restore the natural world.”

Dave Lamacraft of Plantlife said: “Some incredibly rare and threatened species of lichens only exist in Britain’s temperate rainforest habitat and this funding provides a brighter future for these beguiling but unheralded wildlife jewels, and the special but threatened habitat they inhabit.” 

Albert Knott, Dartmoor National Nature Reserve Manager, added: “Natural England has successfully worked with Plantlife and the Woodland Trust at East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths National Nature Reserve on Dartmoor; the latest project being the Building Resilience in South West Woodlands - Plantlife that in part helped to create a better environment for lichens, mosses and liverworts for the future. This recovery project will help to do similar for other Dartmoor woods within the Dartmoor Priority Place and Dartmoor Important Plant Area.”