Chester Zoo secures £318,323 for ‘nature recovery’

A project by Chester Zoo to restore vital habitats for wildlife in Cheshire secures £318,323 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Tony McDonough reports

Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo will use new funding to push forward Networks for Nature. Picture by Chester Zoo


Chester Zoo has secured a £318,323 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to accelerate its ‘nature recovery’ programme in Cheshire.

It will now use the funding to develop detailed plans to create and restore vital habitats for wildlife. The zoo also wants to empower local communities to connect with the conservation of declining UK species through a new project named Networks for Nature. 

This initiative will also provide conservation skills training, establish a wellbeing and accessibility programme, engage young people and create volunteering opportunities. It is all designed to help ensure wildlife can thrive alongside people across the region.

Networks for Nature is being led by the zoo, in partnership with a host of other organisations including Cheshire West and Chester Local Authority, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the Canal and River Trust, Sustrans, the Land Trust, and Cheshire West Communities Together.

Each of the organisations has committed to improving their own land holdings in the area to contribute to the enhancement of Cheshire’s natural landscape. 

Hannah Brooks, community engagement manager at Chester Zoo, said: “We’re in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis.

“The UN estimates that one million species are at risk of extinction, including many here in the UK, meaning there’s never been a more pressing time to stand together for nature.

“Nature is in need of urgent help and our new Networks for Nature project will create a thriving, better connected, wildlife-rich landscape across northwest Cheshire, benefitting both nature and the surrounding communities.


Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo’s Networks for Nature aims to restore wildlife habitats. Picture by Dave Thompson/Chester Zoo


Much of Britain’s wildlife is disappearing with 50% of UK species reported to be in decline. These include:

  • The water vole, the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal, which has been lost from 94% of places where they were once prevalent since the 1960s. The species has declined by 30% in the UK since 2006 due to habitat destruction and water pollution
  • Great crested newts, who’s number has dramatically declined over the last 50 years having lost essential breeding ponds sites to pollution, development and farmland
  • The black poplar, thought to be Britain’s most endangered native timber tree, has been in decline for the past 200 years.

Helen Featherstone, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: “It is vital that we value, rebuild and protect our natural heritage so it is sustained for the future, and this project has that at its core.”

READ MORE: £9.6m new homes scheme caters for bats, toads and newts

READ MORE: University of Liverpool joins Cheshire business cluster

Chester Zoo will now work closely with local communities and partners over the next 14 months to ensure a robust second-round application can be submitted to The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2025.

Already the project has led to the creation of four new jobs in the area, while the team heading up the project is now looking for local landowners to join the movement to transform natural landscapes across Cheshire.

To get involved or find out more, contact

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.