Funding to help people learn about local wildlife sites

The Northern Slopes will be part of  a new project launched this week to reveal some of Bristol’s hidden spaces for wildlife  – supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The My Wild City is being led over four years by Avon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Bristol City Council. It will link with communities near eight local wildlife sites in different parts of the city – including the Filwood-based Northern Slopes.

At a time when council funding will be cut for parks maintenance by 2019 – the project will give local people opportunities to learn more about their green spaces and how to protect them for the future. Avon Wildlife Trust will restore and improve these spaces over the four years.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked £457,500 of funding and awarded a £41,500 development grant to enable the project plans to progress.

Avon Wildlife Trust CEO, Ian Barrett said: “My Wild City is an opportunity to inspire and involve people in the richness of nature on their doorsteps…

“This National Lottery support means we can work with local communities to care for them better and attract more wildlife to them, so they become places more people know and cherish.”

Deputy Mayor with responsibility for parks and green spaces, Councillor Asher Craig, said it was a “fantastic opportunity”  to restore the habitats, wildlife and natural heritage of these important sites – while providing benefits to the communities involved.

She said: “My Wild City will hopefully also provide a template for how to build sustainable local community involvement and engagement, which in the future could be useful for other natural green spaces in Bristol.”

The Northern Slopes Initiative (NSI) is a group of volunteers which help maintain the area. The organisation has been concerned about the impending council funding cuts.

NSI Chair Bob Franks said he was “thrilled” the group would be part of this initiative as it was important to get more people involved with the wildlife on the Slopes.

He told The Knowledge: “After April 2019 there is to be no money from the city council for maintenance of the site.

“New ways of doing things will have to be found and new sources of money obtained. This fits very well. We will build on the work that Avon Wildlife Trust and My Wild Child already do on the Slopes.

“We look forward to working with the two organisations and others  to ensure that the positive things we want to do on the Slopes to enable this nature reserve  to remain  an inspirational green space for people and wildlife. After all we are  the lungs of Bristol.”

Avon Wildlife Trust will begin to run guided walks and family days at each of the local wildlife sites, starting in 2018. They are looking for people to get involved – from beginners to nature buffs to learn how to spot wildlife and learn about looking after woodland, meadows or hedgerows.

Other sites across the city include Hengrove Mounds, Hawkfield Meadow and Dundry Slopes. The project builds on existing work by Avon Wildlife Trust highlighting the positive role nature plays in improving health and wellbeing. University of Bristol researchers will be evaluating the impact the  project has on deepening people’s connection with nature.

If you live near to any of the sites and are interested in being involved in the project, contact matt.collis@avonwildlifetrust.org.uk