Avon Wildlife Trust, a leading conservation organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting wildlife, are looking to assist with community-led wildlife projects in the Somer Valley.

The Trust, who are on a ‘mission to create a wilder future’ work to engage communities, conserve natural habitats, and inspire individuals to take action for the benefit of local biodiversity. With this in mind, they are reaching out to local people to join their community-led wildlife project initiative and are asking residents to submit proposals for new projects.

Avon Wildlife Trust told The Journal: “Community Organiser Rhea Warner has been visiting organisations, individuals, and local groups in the area since August 2023, listening to people’s stories and connection to their local green spaces.

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“The practical work on

the ground will really start in the Somer Valley in the new year, once we have chosen the four projects we will be focusing on.”

With a focus on Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Radstock, and Peasedown St John (making up the Somer Valley) Avon Wildlife Trust’s initiative aims to empower local communities to actively contribute to the conservation and enhancement of their natural surroundings.

Stephanie, from Avon Wildlife Trust, continuedL “We believe people are at the heart of nature’s recovery and that, collectively, we can make a big difference. The Nextdoor Nature project is all about longevity and connectivity. Our aim is to reconnect people with the nature in their neighbourhood and to help them to restore and create places that are special to them, and for wildlife.

“We provide relevant training, advice and support to the community to increase the biodiversity in their streets, gardens and green spaces, so that they are empowered and skilled as environmental champions in their own area for years to come. We will help communities connect with organisations and other groups in their area so that their movement can grow.

“The science shows that if just one person in every four takes action for wildlife, this can be enough to change the minds and behaviour of the majority, causing a social tipping point which will help to put nature in recovery.”

Avon Wildlife Trust is interested in initiatives that demonstrate Biodiversity Enhancement, including projects that contribute to the conservation and restoration of local flora and fauna, as well as Community Engagement projects that foster a sense of community and encourage active participation in every corner of the local community.

Successful applicants will receive support from Avon Wildlife Trust, including relevant training, guidance on applying for funding, assistance with reaching new people in their community and access to resources that will help bring their projects to life.

This call for proposals aligns with Avon Wildlife Trust’s commitment to creating a network of thriving nature reserves and community-led conservation projects across the region. By encouraging local residents to take an active role in preserving and enhancing the natural environment, Avon Wildlife Trust aims to create a lasting impact on the biodiversity and ecological health of The Somer Valley. Stephanie said: “The recent State of Nature report told us what we already knew, sadly the UK’s wildlife is continuing to decline. Already classified as one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, nearly one in six of the more than ten thousand species assessed (16%) are at risk of being lost from Great Britain.

“The Somer Valley has amazing potential to be a haven for wildlife, thanks to the network of disused railway lines, rivers and footpaths. Creating ‘green corridors’ that link green spaces in the urban areas and the surrounding countryside would be a great way of maximising on these already established networks and that is something we hope to help with through this project. People could help by not using pesticides, enjoying wildlife-friendly gardening, and planting for pollinators.”

The deadline for applications is 12th December 2023. To submit a proposal or for more information, please visit: www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/nextdoornature or contact: [email protected]

In partnership with B&NES Council, The Nextdoor Nature Somer Valley project has received £138,680 from the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.