Nextdoor Nature - a new natural legacy to mark the Queen's Jubilee - will help nature flourish in Norwich.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund today announced a £5million investment in a ground-breaking initiative to create a huge matrix of community-led rewilding projects - improving the lives of people from some of the most disadvantaged areas across the UK and leaving a lasting natural legacy in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. The funding is part of The National Lottery's £22million investment to mark the Jubilee and Norwich will benefit with its own project.
Delivered by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Nextdoor Nature will give people the skills, tools and opportunity to take action for nature. This could include establishing wild habitats and green corridors in areas of economic and nature deprivation, rewilding school grounds, or naturalising highly urbanised or unused areas. The pandemic has demonstrated just how important access to a well-cared for natural environment is to communities across the UK.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust will work alongside communities found along the River Wensum corridor as it travels into Norwich, including residents in the Marlpit, Mile Cross, Wensum, Norwich over the Wensum, and Waterloo Park areas of the city.
This announcement follows swift on the heels of Norfolk Wildlife Trust's recent announcement of their vision to create a new urban nature reserve at Norwich's Sweet Briar Marshes.
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and research shows 85% of people in nature-deprived areas say more natural spaces would improve their quality of life. The majority also say that having access to local natural spaces is more important post-pandemic. Nextdoor Nature will enable people to make this happen and in doing so, take steps to tackle the nature and climate crisis whilst also addressing important health and wellbeing needs.
Simon Thurley, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, says:
"As part of The National Lottery family's £22m investment to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, we are delighted to launch Nextdoor Nature, a transformational initiative which will give access to the natural environment to thousands of people who may not have fully enjoyed or appreciated it before. We hope that many people will, for the first time, get hands on with nature creating a new generation of champions for our precious natural environment."
Liz Bonnin, President of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
"We humans are key to solving the climate crisis and restoring our natural heritage. The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, but Nextdoor Nature is working to set that right, putting local communities at the heart of helping our wild places to recover, and making sure that no matter where we live, we can be part of this crucial endeavour.
"The Wildlife Trusts are firmly rooted in communities and can provide support and advice to those willing to lead the charge in bringing wildlife back to homes and workplaces - in turn inspiring those around them to do the same. We can achieve incredible things when we work together!"
Eliot Lyne, Norfolk Wildlife Trust CEO, says:
"This is an exciting development, following the recent announcement of our vision to create a new nature reserve at Sweet Briar Marshes.
"The River Wensum, and surrounding area, is an internationally important place for wildlife. It's the city’s most important highway for nature, providing a vital link for species right along the valley corridor.
"Working with communities located in this area of Norwich offers the perfect opportunity to bring people and wildlife together in an urban setting, creating a Wilder Norwich for All. We are looking forward to listening to our communities to find out what's important to them and helping to facilitate community action for wildlife.
"Nextdoor Nature will let communities set their own agenda about the environmental issues they want to tackle and we'll be looking at different ways of bringing people together and giving them support, skills and confidence to take the next step."
Thanks to the funding from the Heritage Fund, Norfolk Wildlife Trust will support communities who currently see their local area deprived of natural places to enjoy. Evidence shows that people are increasingly disconnected from nature, with profound consequences for health, and it also means they are less likely to protect their natural heritage.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, "No-one will protect what they don't care about; and no-one will care about what they have never experienced."
Anyone interested in finding out more can register here to receive information.