Natural England has launched the first round of a grant scheme providing funds for organisations, landowners and land managers to scope out innovative peatland restoration projects.
The Discovery Grant is part of the Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme, which also offers funding to cover the capital costs of bringing peatland systems back to a natural and healthy state.
The target is to start the restoration of 35,000ha of peatland in England by the end of this parliament.
It is estimated that only 13% of England’s peatlands are currently in a near natural state.
The Discovery Grant has been introduced as Natural England says peatland restoration is most effective when it is undertaken at a landscape scale.
Delivering such projects is likely to be complex, involving building partnerships between different landowners, developing an understanding of the site through hydrological and ecological surveys and exploring opportunities for private investment funding.
The discovery grant will cover 100% of the costs of the preparatory work involved.
Once projects have been fully scoped out, applicants can then apply for restoration grants to pay for the capital works required.
There will be two rounds of bidding for the Discovery Grant, with applications for the first round closing on 1 September.
Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, said: “Our new grant is a vital foot up, encouraging and enabling partnerships to develop much more ambitious and extensive proposals to restore the integrity and quality of peat systems across large landscape areas, contributing to a wider nature recovery network.
“I am really looking forward to seeing how they progress and we urge any interested groups to apply for a Discovery Grant.”