Make your area a haven for wildlife

EVERYONE can play a part in making their neighbourhood an oasis for wildlife and now £1m is up for grabs for those enterprising projects - those that are already underway and those that are, as yet, just a twinkle in their creator's eye!

EVERYONE can play a part in making their neighbourhood an oasis for wildlife and now a£1m is up for grabs for those enterprising projects - those that are already underway and those that are, as yet, just a twinkle in their creator's eye!

It has just been announced that as part of the BBC Breathing Places campaign, of which the Wildlife Trusts are a key partner, £1 million of funding is to be released through the Big Lottery Fund to voluntary and community groups to develop specific projects.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust already provide advice and practical help to over 250 local community groups throughout the county and are available to advise communities who are thinking of embarking on a local wildlife conservation project. The Breathing Places initiative has been developed by the BBC with partner organisations to involve a million people over the next three years in transforming 50,000 places for people and for wildlife.

The Breathing Places grants programme has two aims: To increase participation and access to local breathing places by encouraging people to become actively involved in them and by supporting activities that are open and accessible to everyone. Secondly to make a lasting improvement to the local environment by supporting activities that develop existing breathing places or help create and sustain new ones.

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As a result of the funding the wildlife trusts, BBC and other partners want to improve biodiversity and wildlife habitats which are accessible to everyone, increase community use of breathing places, increase opportunities and support for volunteers and improve skills to manage local breathing places.

Grants of between £300-£10,000 will be available to those who apply for existing projects, followed by a further £4 million of funding due to be released in the autumn to include groups creating places from scratch. But get moving - the closing date for applications for projects already underway is Wednesday .

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A booklet and application form can be downloaded from

or printed copies should be available in your local library.

You can apply if you are a voluntary or community sector organisation working at a local level, or a town or parish council. All groups who apply will need to be registered on the Breathing Places online database when applying so Suffolk Wildlife Trust advises interested groups to ensure they sign up their place as soon as possible.

Projects such as creating wildlife areas on allotments, improving access to a community site, revamping derelict ground, tree planting on village greens or creating viewing jetties on wildlife ponds are examples of eligible projects. If you have an idea give us a call…if you don't yet have any fully formed ideas but want to discuss what's possible do get in touch. Whatever your wildlife project Suffolk Wildlife Trust is on hand to advise and support.

But why should we bother creating local wild patches? In the last few decades Suffolk's landscape has changed enormously. Intensive farming, forestry, commerce and house building have swallowed up vast areas of what was once wild countryside. A staggering 96per cent of unimproved grassland has been lost since 1939. The majority of Suffolk's remaining grassland is managed as an arable crop; fertilised, drained and grazed or cut for silage.

The uniform green of intensively managed grass, dominated by just a few agricultural species, looks much the same whether it's found in Breckland or the Waveney Valley. Regional differences in climate, geology and soils can now hardly be seen in the varieties and communities of plants that dominate our grassland.

Although there are patches of good habitat scattered throughout the county, the wildlife-friendly corners of gardens, village greens and churchyards are becoming increasingly important as valuable refuges for wildlife. Many of our wild species, for example the great crested newt, stag beetle, water vole and song thrush have all become much rarer in the last ten years. They all need particular conditions to live in - and they now depend on us to help them survive.


For more information contact Tracey Housley at Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089.

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