01 March 2024

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will help Peakland Environmental Farmers (PEF) restore nature


  • PEF is an environmental cooperative launched in 2023 representing 77 farmers covering 40,000ha across the Dark Peak and South West Peak in partnership with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and the NFU
  • The £100,000 funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will help establish the PEF and fund baseline environmental surveys to show how its farmers can improve the precious habitats and heritage of the Peak District National Park
  • The group is looking to secure a blend of agri-environment schemes and private finance to replace the loss of £millions in farm subsidies in the region and to fund a range of landscape-scale projects including rebuilding stone walls, restoring damaged peatland and planting new networks of hedgerows.

037_FJ_Teresa Dent

A £100,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been awarded to help establish the Peakland Environmental Farmers (PEF) group which currently represents 77 land managers covering 40,000 hectares in the Dark and Southwest Peaks. The central aims of the cooperative are nature recovery, peatland restoration, clean water and net zero by 2040. In the long term it is looking to replace the loss of farm subsidies by securing a blend of public and private finance to restore the precious habitats and heritage of the Peak District National Park.

The UK’s leading wildlife research charity the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is managing the National Lottery funded project. Chief executive Teresa Dent CBE said: “I am delighted that the Heritage Fund is supporting GWCT to help farmers and moorland managers in the Peak District create an Environmental Farmers Group that will aim to deliver substantial environmental outcomes over 40,000 hectares of land. This is just the beginning of what I am sure will be an exciting environmental journey. It is wonderful that National Lottery players have made that start-up possible.”

Tom Noel PEF

Tom Noel, local farmer and chair of PEF said:

“We welcome the award as a ringing endorsement of the principle that, through collaborative working and with the right level of investment, farmers can achieve nature recovery alongside food production over a large scale, thereby meeting and beating government environmental targets. Farmers manage 72% of the UK countryside and so are vital to achieving the transformative change needed to meet the challenges of national biodiversity decline, climate change and restoring iconic landscapes.”

The Heritage Fund grant will enable the PEF, which has so far been established on a largely voluntary basis, to attain legal standing, carry out ecological surveys of its members’ land holdings and develop landscape-scale conservation plans. This will provide a platform from which the environmental cooperative aims to secure public funding through Environmental Land Management Schemes and private finance via natural capital markets to support long-term, large-scale projects such as rebuilding stone walls, restoring damaged peatland and planting new networks of hedgerows.

PEF Sheep

Chloe Palmer who facilitates two smaller Farmer Clusters within the larger PEF, Hope Valley and Bradfield Farmers, recently managed the distribution of 31,000 hedge plants as part of a project to plant 24km of hedgerows in four years. She said: “These new hedges will capture carbon, help prevent sediment run off polluting river systems and benefit a wide range of wildlife including threatened farmland birds such as song thrushes, linnets and tree sparrows. Further ahead we are looking forward engaging the wider Peak District community in initiatives to restore stone walls and moorland.

The work of the PEF will play a key role in delivering the aims of the Peak District National Park. Phil Mulligan, chief executive said: “The farmed landscape has been at the heart of the National Park for generations and remains inextricably linked to what we can deliver for nature recovery and climate change today. We are already at the forefront of key government tests on the transition to new environmental land management (ELM) approaches, along with administering significant grants through the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme. This substantial Lottery funding to PEF will enable the farming community both as individuals and collaboratively to further strengthen the Peak District’s leading role in demonstrating how the agricultural landscape can tackle the biggest environmental issues we currently face.”

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Notes for editors:

Peakland Environmental Farmers (PEF)

What is Peakland Environmental Farmers (PEF)?

PEF is an environmental co-operative of farmers and moorland managers who have come together to achieve ambitious outcomes on a landscape scale in the Dark Peak and Southwest Peak, representing 77 farmers covering 40,000ha. We want to enhance nature, provide climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration and improve water quality alongside sustainable food production and game management. We seek fair representation and reasonable financial returns for PEF members through a blend of public and private funding for delivering a wide range of upland-focussed natural capital goods and services with integrated community engagement. In particular, we aim to identify and communicate the requirements of an economically viable model of farmer-led landscape-scale conservation to policy makers including the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA).

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future as set out in the strategic plan, Heritage 2033.

Over the next ten years, the Heritage Fund aims to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.

The Heritage Fund helps protect, transform and share the things from the past that people care about, from popular museums and historic places, our natural environment and fragile species, to the languages and cultural traditions that celebrate who we are.

The Heritage Fund is passionate about heritage and committed to driving innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to people’s lives today, while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund www.heritagefund.org.uk

What is the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)

Foremost a scientific body, the GWCT employs 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. Its advice to private land managers is based on findings from its peer-reviewed research. As a result of this evidence-led approach, statutory bodies including Defra, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural Resources Wales have based much agri-environment policy on GWCT research. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

What is Natural Capital Advisory (NCA)?

Natural Capital Advisory’s mission is to use its combined expertise in natural science and business to deliver the very best environmental and financial outcomes from the Natural Capital market. NCA has five main activities to achieve its vision of delivering environmental goods for fair reward: environmental auditing, convening groups of farmers, brokering environmental trades and monitoring environmental projects. It operates in line with international conservation standards, providing the highest level of assurance both for farmers and natural capital investors.

For information, contact:

Joe Dimbleby