Posted on: Thursday 15 October 2020
Verges in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent to benefit from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Welsh Government.
In 2014 Torfaen Council agreed to implement a number of practical measures to encourage and increase the number of pollinators in Torfaen, including a review of grassland management to allow for less intensive grass cutting on selected areas of roadside verge, banks and areas of parkland which are not used regularly for play activities. This approach is essential to encourage a diversity of flora that supports pollinators.
The new funding will enable the Council to purchase a new ‘cut and collect’ mower, which can also be used in Blaenau Gwent, to change the way grassland is managed to better provide for and help protect bees, butterflies, birds and other local wildlife.
The project is amongst the first to have been supported via the new grant programme, Local Places for Nature, which aims to encourage and support community based projects to restore and enhance the natural environment on our doorsteps.
Councillor Mandy Owen, Torfaen County Borough Council, executive member for the environment said: “Using the new equipment will mean that the council will be able to fulfil previous commitments made using its own equipment where selected areas of green space were identified to be managed in a different way, and residents will continue to see wildflowers replacing formal, trimmed verges next spring.
“This special type of mower will bring about a visual change to the appearance of our green space as more wildflowers should be able to grow. Wild flowers provide pollinators and other wildlife the perfect environment they need to thrive, which is good news for everyone.We saw some of these benefits earlier this year, during the lockdown period and a Facebook campaign launched by local people who wanted grass cutting to be reduced so wildflowers could flourish.
“Looking after bees and other insects is so important to the health of our planet as our ecosystems and crops depend on them, but it is well-documented that bees are under serious threat from loss of their natural habitat.
“This National Lottery grant means that we as a council can do our bit to make sure bees and other important insects and wildlife are made very welcome here, with the bonus of colourful and pretty verges in the process. It’s a win-win.”
The Local Places for Nature Capital Fund will run until March 2021, and is still accepting applications until October. Grants will range from between £3,000 and £100,000, with the total funding pot available worth £2.3 million. The Fund is made up of £2.1m from Welsh Government and £345k from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this fantastic project for Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, which will help revitalise and improve existing outdoors spaces as well as create brand new ones.
“The natural environment is one of our greatest assets and our oldest form of heritage, but it is under serious threat. This money from the Welsh Government and National Lottery players will work hard to ensure our important natural heritage is cared for. It will help reconnect people with the natural world on their doorstep as well as protect that environment for years to come.
“The National Lottery Heritage Fund has identified nature and landscapes as a priority in our new Strategic Funding Framework, as we believe that looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more important.
“With COVID-19, people are more than ever realising the value of having pleasant outdoor spaces to relax, enjoy and exercise in, and many have had the opportunity to appreciate the importance of Wales’s natural environment to our wellbeing.
“I look forward to hearing from more applicants to the Local Places for Nature scheme through to the deadline in October, and to supporting many new projects in the fight against climate change.”
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “We have seen a greater appreciation of nature during the pandemic and the way in which it underpins our health, our economy and our wider wellbeing.
“The Welsh Government is committed to halting and reversing the decline in nature and making sure everyone in Wales can enjoy nature from their doorstep, and the Local places for Nature scheme reflects the determination of organisations and communities in Wales to do more for nature, even in these very difficult times.
“The creation of new spaces for nature through this scheme will provide opportunities for communities to come together, to be inspired and to accelerate the transformational changes needed in our economy and society to respond to the climate emergency and to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity.”
For enquiries about the Local Places for Nature Capital Fund and details on how to apply, please contact email@example.com or visit www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/local-places-nature-guidance.