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National Lottery Heritage Fund

From coast to coast and dale to downs, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has funded nature conservation projects that allow our wildlife to flourish by protecting habitats through restoration and empowering local communities.

Supporting our wildlife and landscapes

Back from the Brink

One of the most ambitious conservation projects undertaken in this country, Back from the Brink aims to save 20 species from extinction while benefiting over 200 more from Cornwall to Northumberland. Developed by Rethink Nature, a partnership of eight conservation organisations, including RSPB and Natural England, the mega-project brings together 19 projects that span the country. So far, over 2,000 people have volunteered 4,000 days of work to protect our wildlife and wild spaces.

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RKites Project

Two hundred years ago, red kites were hunted to extinction in Ireland. In 2008 an ambitious re-introduction project was launched to bring these majestic birds back to Northern Ireland. In 2010 we were delighted when the first wild red kite chicks hatched in County Down.

Unfortunately, the project has suffered setbacks since the re-introduction. In a number of unrelated incidents, red kites have been found dead from illegal persecution.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and supported by the Mourne Heritage Trust and the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group, the RKites Project was launched in 2017 to engage communities in the conservation of these vulnerable birds of prey.

Working with a fantastic group of local volunteers, RSPB NI has created an education programme and delivered it across a spectrum of audiences in the area from schools and community groups to farmers and land owners.

It is our hope that we can look forward to a time when Northern Ireland has a self-sustaining and healthy population of red kites.


Arun and Rother Connections

By restoring and reconnecting wetland habitats, this partnership project supported a rich and thriving river system through improving access and linking communities to these river landscapes.

Engaging communities was key to its success, with over 1,000 volunteers collectively giving five and a half years of their time. Key achievements include enhancing the rivers for wildlife such as fish and voles, creating habitats for owls, bees and bats, and connecting residents and school children with their local natural world.

The project was delivered in a partnership hosted by the RSPB including Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, West Sussex County Council, Environment Agency, the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust and Natural England.



Off the coast of Aberdeen, you can regularly see bottlenose dolphins within view of the shore. Dolphinwatch engages local communities and visitors with these iconic animals and the wider marine environment through viewing at Torry Battery, a schools programme and community outreach.

Dolphinwatch not only celebrates the amazing marine wildlife but also encourages people to take action to protect it. In just one year, thanks to partners and volunteers, we have collected 200 bags of marine litter from Aberdeen’s beaches, engaged nearly 500 school children with their local marine environment and welcomed almost 5000 people to Dolphinwatch viewing at Torry Battery. In 2019, we organised Aberdeen’s first-ever DolphinFest. A weekend of activities celebrating the dolphins encouraged people to take action and gave a platform for young people to use their voice to protect nature.

Dolphinwatch is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and ScottishPower Foundation and delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

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