AN East Lancashire environmental charity has won more than £600,000 from the government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund to get more people out into nature.

The cash will go to The Ribble Rivers Trust for a programme to boost tree planting, walking and volunteering.

Its Health and Environmental Action Lancashire project (HEAL) is one of 90 across England to be successful in the second round of National Lottery Heritage Fund grant awards.

The £660,100 boost for green jobs and nature recovery will initially focus on Pendle and Hyndburn boroughs.

The HEAL project, which starts in September, will create and restore habitats whilst improving health and wellbeing across the catchment areas of the Rivers Ribble, Lune and Wyre.

The project will create and manage habitats including new woodlands containing 55,000 trees, a wetland, heathlands, grassland, new footpaths and micro tree nurseries.

The project will encourage new volunteers to get involved in activities like growing tree saplings, tree planting, guided walks to help gather tree seeds and control invasive species, and ecological surveys.

Early schemes include woodland and heather management at Accrington's Peel Park, a micro tree nursery in Oswaldtwistle, a new footpath at Colne's Ball Grove Park and woodland creation across Pendle.

The project was developed using the Clitheroe-based Ribble Rivers Trust’s data in partnership with the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council’s public health team.

Trust chief executive Jack Spees said: “We’re absolutely delighted. There has been a growing momentum across the county prior to the pandemic, but even more so since, as we have all begun to appreciate our local green spaces more.

“We are particularly excited by the opportunities the project will provide for people to gain access to nature and take active roles in improving their local environment whilst gaining knowledge, skills and work experience."

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “Preserving and restoring our precious natural environment is absolutely essential if we want it to be there and enjoyed by our children and grandchildren.

“The £660,100 awarded to the Health and Environmental Action Lancashire project will help restore and safeguard our local natural landscape – creating and supporting green jobs in our community, and helping secure a green recovery."

More than 20 schools and communities will be involved across the county.

The HEAL Project will support and create jobs and deliver training in conservation skills.

Project partners include The Prospects Foundation based in Accrington, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Hyndburn and Pendle Councils and Lancaster University.