National Lottery backs ambitious plan to save twenty species threatened with extinction

Wednesday 29th March 2017

A further 200 species, including long-eared bat, pine marten, willow tit and lesser butterfly orchid will be brought Back from the Brink

In one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken, 20 UK species facing extinction will be brought Back from the Brink thanks to £4.6 million from the National Lottery. 

Back from the Brink will address the needs of threatened species in 150 key habitats and landscapes across England from the Yorkshire Dales to Cornwall.  It will focus on saving some very rare and elusive species from extinction, including the shrill carder bee, chequered skipper butterfly, ladybird spider and northern dune tiger beetle.  

The funding will also help a further 200 species that, while not facing extinction, are under threat including the grey long-eared bat, pine martin, willow tit, large garden bumblebee, lesser butterfly orchid and hedgehog.

Back from the Brink is the first nationwide coordinated effort to bring a wide range of leading charities and conservation bodies together to save threatened species.  Natural England, the government’s wildlife advisory body, will work in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and RSPB to pool expertise, develop new ways of working and inspire people across the country to discover, value and act for threatened animals, plants and fungi.

In addition, the programme will inspire a nation to discover, value and act for threatened species and take steps to help them.

This ground-breaking programme will:

·         safeguard 20 species from extinction;

·         directly improve the conservation prospects of a further 200;

·         recruit and teach more than 5,500 volunteers new skills to study, identify and care for threatened species; and

·         engage with landowners and communities to deliver conservation at 150 different locations across England.

Natural England’s Chairman, Andrew Sells said:

“Back from the Brink represents a groundbreaking approach to nature conservation and we are extremely grateful to HLF for having the vision and generosity to support it.

“This is a dynamic partnership which draws on people-power to help save some of our most important species. Natural England strongly supports this approach and is delighted to be part of it.

“Bringing these species back from the brink cannot be achieved by one group alone. But by pooling resources and developing new ideas, this project will add vital momentum to all our efforts.”

Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund Ros Kerslake said:

“I am delighted we are able to fund this important and groundbreaking project. We’re all ultimately dependent on our ecosystem and these creatures are like canaries in the mine. Thanks to a combination of National Lottery funding and expertise from across multiple agencies and conservation charities, we can make a positive and lasting change before it is too late.”

Mike Clarke the RSPB’s chief executive said:

“Our natural world is in trouble, last year’s State of Nature report revealed that the population of over half of UK species are in decline, but we believe it is not too late to take action. Today’s announcement by the National Lottery will make a big difference to some of our most threatened species that, without action, may soon be lost forever. The Back from the Brink project is bringing together specialists from many of our biggest and most effective conservation organisations to support the governments of the UK in meeting our obligations to the UN and international community to protect our most threatened species from extinction. This funding will be invaluable in our efforts to ensure future generations inherit a thriving and diverse natural environment.”

Julie Williams, CEO of Butterfly Conservation said:

“We are delighted that National Lottery have recognised and rewarded this multi-organisational partnership to deliver something special for our threatened species. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts and we look forward to working with our partners to demonstrate that and make an even bigger difference.”

Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife said:

 “Bugs, beetles, ants, spiders and other invertebrates make up the majority of species on the brink of extinction. It is fantastic that this pathfinding partnership project will pull back so many species that could otherwise disappear forever.  Our natural environment has never been more imperiled; dedicated work to rescue endangered plants and animals is a cornerstone of any sensible broader strategy to restore a thriving country.”

Marian Spain, CEO of Plantlife said:

We are delighted to be joining forces with other leading conservation organisations to save some of our very rarest and most threatened wildlife.  The dramatically declining lesser butterfly orchid and Cornish path moss, which is now found at only two sites in the world, are an important part of our heritage and it is incumbent on us to preserve them for future generations.  They are teetering on the brink of extinction and we must not allow them to fall away.

“People are at the heart of this programme and they are vital to its success.  We want people to be inspired by their precious local wildlife and, just as importantly, have great fun in the process. Get mud on your boots, pick a few wildflowers, learn the names of lichens, count birds and butterflies, take stunning wildlife photographs and make new friends. Back from the Brink offers endless possibilities for both people and nature. It’s very exciting.”

Julia Hanmer, Joint CEO of Bat Conservation Trust said:

“The scale of delivery and the degree of collaboration makes Back from the Brink an exciting project which offers real hope of creating a world where wildlife and people thrive together. Thank you to National Lottery for sharing our vision.”

David Hodd, Programme Manager of the Back from the Brink programme concluded by saying:

 “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and is a game changing approach to nature conservation that will have a lasting legacy.  It will inspire new working partnerships, and help people to adopt new ways of working.  England’s species provide us with a rich source of enjoyment, inspiration and creativity. Our collective endeavour to bring our threatened species back from the brink will provide many people with just that. We are living in the last chance saloon for many of these species, but each and every one of them plays a crucial role within our fragile ecosystem. We are all ultimately dependent on them all – they are like the canaries in the mine and our understanding of them is the result of enormous human endeavour.”


For further information and for images, please contact:

·         Morag Walker, Natural England: 07736 124097 or [email protected]

·         Simon Oliver, Heritage Lottery Fund: 0207 591 6032 or [email protected]



Notes to editors

Why have these species been selected? Populations of even once common species are being lost from gardens, parishes, districts, and counties; whilst other already rare species are threatened with national extinction.  Well over a thousand (1,146) of England’s plant and animal species are in need of help: 361 have been identified as in imminent danger of national extinction whilst a further 785 are threatened, rare, range-restricted or declining. 943 of these species are on the statutory list of priority species in England under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. From these, the partnership has identified the 230 species most in need of action and for which we can make a lasting difference. These are our ‘Priority Species’. Back from the Brink’s focus and mission is with these threatened species.


  1. The programme in numbers:

·         Safeguard 20 species from extinction

·         Directly improve the conservation prospects of a further 92 threatened species

·         Benefit an additional 112 threatened species

·         Reach 1,290,000 people through digital and social media via a central digital platform that communities contribute to

·         Engage 59,400 people directly

·         5,850 will be taught news skills, including recording, identification and habitat management.

·         Teach a further 8,600 new skills through digital or indirect contact

·         Deliver 7,030 volunteer days with 2,930 volunteers




  1. The full list of 20 species to be saved from extinction is:

Black Click Beetle; Field Wormwood; Shrill carder bee;  Interrupted brome; Matted bryum; Chequered Skipper butterfly;  Northern dune tiger beetle; Ladybird Spider; Narrow headed ant; Royal Splinter Cranefly; Variable Chafer; Moccas beetle; Oak Click Beetle; Violet Click Beetle; Grey carpet moth; Bearded False Darkling Beetle; Cosnard's Net-winged Beetle; Purbeck Mason Wasp; Prostrate Perennial Knawel.

  1. The additional 200 species that will be helped include:

Large Blue butterfly; Large garden bumblebee; Natterjack Toad; Stone Curlew; Southern Damselfly; Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; Duke of Burgundy butterfly; Sand Lizard; Black-tailed Godwit; Woodlark; Lesser Butterfly Orchid; Brown long-eared bat; Grey Long-eared Bat; Greater horseshoe bat; Willow Tit; Marsh Tit; Adder; Pine Marten; Pasque Flower; Corn buttercup; Sky Lark; Slow-worm; Potter flower bee; Corn Bunting; Cirl bunting; Yellowhammer; Reed bunting; Hedgehog; Brown hare; House sparrow; Tree sparrow; Grey partridge; Great crested newt; Motteld bee-fly; Lapwing; Common Lizard.

  1. individual projects include:

Adding Diversity to Dorset's Heaths

  • We’ll restore, expand vital places to help Dorset’s specialist threatened species.
  • We’ll provide action, advice and share skills on what these species need.
  • We’ll celebrate heathlands, deepening people’s engagement with this fascinating landscape.


Colour in the Margins

  • We’ll work where our most precious farmland where wildlife is found, including Cornwall, Somerset, Wessex, the North Downs, Devon, Norfolk and the Yorkshire Wolds.
  • We’ll bring back locally extinct plants.
  • We aim to inspire about the cultural legacy of these plants get involved in their conservation
  • We’ll create lasting partnerships between landowners and volunteers, empowered to help a range of wildlife.


Cotswolds Limestone Grassland

  • We’ll restore a network of limestone grassland sites that support a range of threatened species and bring the Large Blue and Marsh Fritillary butterflies to new sites.
  • We’ll inspire people to discover these species and help save them.


Gems in the Dunes – Saving Sefton’s Threatened Wildlife

  • Management at priority sites will aid the recovery of key species.
  • We’ll train and empower volunteers across the Sefton Coast to help local communities to discover, value and act for their natural heritage


Restoring Rockingham Forest's Species

  • We’ll restore and manage 11 woodland sites, increasing the distribution and awareness of target species.
  • We’ll reintroduce the Chequered Skipper butterfly to England. 
  • We’ll provide opportunities to volunteer.


Shifting Sands – Securing a Future for the Brecks

  • Manage Breckland grass heaths 
  • We’ll improve the conservation methods for key species such as Field Wormwood and Prostrate Perennial Knawel
  • We’ll inform and inspire volunteers, landowners and managers about threatened species in the Brecks.



  1. Core Partners

Natural England, Bumblebee Conservation, Plantlife International, RSPB, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Bat Conservation Trust.

  1. 22 additional delivery partners include

Wildlife Trusts, ,Crown Estate, MoD, National Trust, Woodland Trust, Kew Millennium Seed Bank, Network Rail, Sefton Council, University of East Anglia, Vincent Wildlife Trust, private estates and golf clubs, Wildscreen, Forestry Commission.



The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) is a national wildlife charity committed to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians and the disappearing habitats on which they depend. Our vision sees amphibians and reptiles thriving in their natural habitats, and a society inspired and committed to their conservation. ARC manages a series of nature reserves, runs species recovery programmes, undertakes monitoring and scientific studies, and provides advice to help people conserve reptiles and amphibians.

Bat Conservation Trust : Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) are the leading charity solely devoted to the conservation of bats and the landscapes on which they rely. We work closely with many organisations including over 100 bat groups across the UK. We are working to secure the future of bats in our ever changing world by tackling the threats to bats, from persecution to loss or roosts and changing land use. As the authoritative voice for bat conservation we work locally, nationally, across Europe and internationally. BCT have a vision of a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together.

Buglife Conservation Trust is the only charity in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is actively working to save Britain's rarest bugs, bees, butterflies, ants, worms, beetles and many more fascinating invertebrates.

Bumblebee Conservation Trust has a vision for a different future in which our communities and countryside are rich in bumblebees and colourful flowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife and habitats for everyone to enjoy.


Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. We provide advice on conserving and restoring habitats. We run programmes for more than 100 threatened species and are involved in conserving thousands of sites and reserves.

Natural England is here to secure a healthy natural environment for people to enjoy, where wildlife is protected and England’s traditional landscapes are safeguarded for future generations.

Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. They are the life support for all our wildlife and their colour and character light up our landscapes. We own nearly 4,500 acres of nature reserve across England, Scotland and Wales and our team of experts work with landowners, businesses, conservation organisations, community groups and governments to help save our rarest flora and ensure familiar flowers and plants continue to thrive. Plantlife was instrumental in the creation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation that the UK Government is signed up to and we are a member of Planta Europa, a pan-European network of over 60 conservation organisations. Plantlife's Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.

The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.