Empowering the Freelance Economy

Follow the green funding: environmental, forestry and STEM freelancers and SMEs in for a bumper 2021

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Plans to help kickstart the UK’s ‘green recovery’ have been unveiled this week, including the expansion of protected landscapes, increased access to nature, stronger flood resilience, and the creation and retention of thousands of green jobs.

  • PM Doubled the funding for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to create and retain thousands of green jobs across England
  • New national parks and greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes to improve access to nature and better protect the country’s rich wildlife and biodiversity
  • The government is committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025. The £640 million Nature for Climate fund will help us increase planting in England, alongside peatland restoration and nature recovery.

The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan also confirms new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be created, as well as 10 Landscape Recovery projects. These initiatives take the UK closer to protecting 30% of UK land by 2030, extending protections by 1.5% in England towards our goal of an additional area of over 400,000ha and restoring the equivalent of over 30,000 football pitches of wildlife-rich habitat.

“In 2021 government will start the formal process of designation of the new National Parks and AONBs which will involve identifying the best candidates. This will look at how new sites contribute to our wider goals for nature, beauty, heritage and people,” it was reported in a government statement.

Follow the funding

  • Tree planting
  • Environmental education
  • Habitat restoration of peatlands and wetlands
  • Flood defenses of homes and businesses

A new £40 million additional investment into the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund has also been confirmed for creating and retaining thousands of green jobs in areas including tree planting, environmental education and the restoration of damaged habitats, such as peatlands and wetlands. The successful projects from the first funding round will be announced in the coming weeks.

£5.2 billion for flood defences will also help the country adapt to a changing climate, with an increased focus on nature-based solutions highlighted in the recent flood strategy.

The PM has reported a £5.2 billion investment for flood and coastal defences to deliver around 2,000 flood schemes and better protect 336,000 properties.

Speaking of the opportunities that the Green Recovery Challenge Fund presents, Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said:

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will support projects that will create much-needed green jobs in the environmental and forestry sectors and will help deliver the government’s ambitious tree planting and net-zero commitments.

Through these initiatives, we are committed to ensuring the right trees are planted in the right places, for the right reasons – be that carbon capture; homes for wildlife, tree planting near rivers to protect land and property from flooding; or providing timber, fuel and energy for business and communities.

“We are committed to driving forward a green revolution as we build back better and greener from the pandemic, and the Ten Point Plan provides a crucial vehicle to help us shape a cleaner and more resilient society,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper, said, “Investing in large-scale Landscape Recovery projects, creating more protected areas and employing hundreds more people to restore the natural environment will support the flourishing new Nature Recovery Network that we and others are driving forward across the length and breadth of the country.”

While the government takes action to accelerate the achievement of net zero, it is crucial that steps are taken to adapt to the evident impacts of climate change. Investment into flood defences will protect homes, businesses and essential services from the disruption and economic impact caused by flooding.

The government said it is committed to building a nation better protected and more resilient to flooding, earlier this year announcing a record £5.2 billion investment for flood and coastal defences to deliver around 2,000 flood schemes and better protect 336,000 properties.

It has also set out a comprehensive long-term plan to tackle flooding and coastal erosion, while the Environment Agency is implementing its new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy to create a nation resilient to the effects of climate change.

STEM skills required

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said the climate crisis is “the biggest threat to the global economy so extra funding to train people with vital STEM skills will provide sustainable employment and keep the UK economy competitive.”

She also said that the government’s commitments help boost a green recovery from coronavirus.

Landscape Recovery Projects

The Landscape Recovery projects will be established over the next four years through the government’s Environmental Land Management scheme, which will be centred around support aimed at incentivising sustainable farming practices, creating habitats for nature recovery and supporting the establishment of new woodland and other ecosystem services to help tackle challenges like climate change.

This follows the landmark Agriculture Bill passing into law last week.

Alongside the measures set out in this plan, the government’s future farming and countryside programme will continue to develop plans and schemes which will support the delivery of our environmental commitments and goals. Further detail will be available in November.


To learn of more opportunities for freelancers and SMEs in the green recovery, read our report here.

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