A conservation project in North Devon is set to benefit from Government and charity funding.

Golden plover are among the species that now frequent Horsey Island at Braunton. Picture:Andrew ParkinsonGolden plover are among the species that now frequent Horsey Island at Braunton. Picture:Andrew Parkinson

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Caen Wetland project aims to restore wetland at Horsey Island near Braunton.

The wetlands site is one of the UK’s most important sites for wetland birds but is under pressure from human impacts, climate change, and rising sea levels.

It is hoped the project will alleviate flood risks, create new habitats for wildlife and help tackle climate change.

Alongside its restoration, a visitor centre is hoped to provide a source of income.

The funding will allow land owners Devon Wildlife Trust, which bought the land in 2019, to develop a business case for investment in the project.

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust chief executive, said: “This is a truly outstanding natural and cultural landscape – over the coming months we’ll be working alongside a wide range of partners, expert consultants and local communities to explore the opportunities to create new wetland habitats and visitor facilities, where people will have the opportunity to see north Devon’s wildlife at its best.”

The Caen Wetlands project is one of four in the UK to receive funding as part of a pilot scheme to encourage private investment in the natural environment.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and Triodos Bank UK have formed a collaboration to support environmental projects to create sustainable funding models.

The other projects to receive funding are the River Trust’s work on natural flood management in Lancashire; the NFU’s work to reduce nitrate pollution in Poole Harbour, and Moors for the Future Partnership’s restoration and conservation of peatlands in the Pennines.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “In England we are increasingly seeing new extreme weather accelerate from wettest to driest and back again, restoring nature is key to managing this.

“You can’t put a price on nature, but investing in its recovery can generate a steady return and will make the UK economy more clean and resilient.

“These projects are designed to attract investment into local economies while developing models for businesses to use and scale up around the world.”