The ‘Local Places for Nature’ scheme provides benefits for all.
Ahhhh, spring. We can feel its presence as it creeps around the corner of what has been a particularly challenging winter for so many. As we dream of longer, warmer and (dare we say it) sunnier days ahead we also look forward to embracing all the joys that time outside entails.
After a year of lockdowns, the importance of nature and the associated health and wellbeing benefits that green spaces provide have never been so well recognised. Always one step ahead of the curve, the Keep Wales Tidy team have been working to deliver practical action, education and training, and environmental solutions across Wales since the charity began in 1972.
One of our favourite charities to follow on social media throughout lockdown, we’ve been delighted to witness the many benefits that the Keep Wales Tidy ‘Local Places for Nature’ scheme has brought to so many communities in Wales.
This wonderful initiative is part of a wider £5m Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund, committed to acquiring, restoring and enhancing nature. The overriding aim of the scheme is to ensure that everyone is able to experience the benefits of nature on their doorstep (and what a wonderful aim that is!!!).
So how does the scheme work? Community groups and organisations looking to create, restore and enhance habitats and spaces across Wales are invited to apply for packages via a simple process and applications are assessed and awarded by a project grant panel.
The Keep Wales Tidy team have designed a choice of packages tailored to different types of groups and organisations. Each pre-paid package includes native plants, tools and a variety of other materials, and all orders and deliveries are handled by the Keep Wales Tidy team.
Smaller projects are awarded a ‘Starter’ package, with 440 projects provided with a package to date. Examples of these projects include the provision of habitat boxes, fruit bushes and materials for raised beds.
Community-based organisations have the option to apply for a ‘Development’ package. These packages are designed for organisations (such as social enterprises, church groups and charities) looking to create a larger-scale project that will bring the community together and encourage people to volunteer outdoors to create green spaces for everyone to enjoy (at a time when social distancing restrictions allow).
Alongside the materials and equipment supplied, the Keep Wales Tidy team also provide training and practical help and expertise to install the new areas. Priority is given to projects in physically deprived areas and those areas with little access to nature.
With 82 ‘Development’ packages already awarded, applicants are able to seek funding for a wildlife garden, a sustainable drainage system/rainwater garden, or a community food growing area.
The Keep Wales Tidy team have many wonderful stories of how these spaces have been created during (and, in spite of) the Covid-19 pandemic, with communities organising individual work rotas to ensure social distancing, while also enabling people to get out into nature and contribute, and feel a sense of worth, by volunteering.
A great example of the success of the scheme comes via a project initiated by the Noddfa Baptist Chapel. Their package helped to transform an unloved area into a wild garden filled with pollinator friendly plants and a variety of other wildlife habitats. A former dumping ground has been replaced with Wildflower Turf and raised beds were built over amenity grass and have been planted up with native, wildlife-friendly plants. Bee and butterfly hotels are also now present, and 105 apple trees will provide for both pollinators and the community.
Wildflower Turf Ltd have supplied both our Landscape 34 product with WFT Finisher and our SuDS turf to these projects and we have been thrilled to hear that the team have found the solutions we offered, more than deliver. With the exception of two days of snow, installation has been seamless with the turf described as “so easy to lay” and supply continuity was assured, as we were in a position to supply on demand throughout the winter months.
We look forward to seeing more of these wonderful projects come to fruition as restrictions ease and people embrace nature from their doorsteps and beyond.
To learn more about the Keep Wales Tidy ‘Local Places for Nature’ initiative, do visit their excellent website: https://www.keepwalestidy.cymru/pages/category/nature and follow them on Twitter @Keep_Wales_Tidy.