UK charity gets funds to plant urban woodland

A multimillion-pound grant scheme to improve access to nature has targeted a project to plant urban woods to help people reconnect with nature, and avoid anti-social behaviour, Horticulture Week reports.

Access to Nature, managed by Natural England, aims to hand out £25 million of Big Lottery money to urban communities to start or improve nature projects.

One of the winners, conservation charity the Woodland Trust, aims to transform 10 of its urban woods in the North West.

Its grant of £213,000 will help launch a Woodland Communities project, said Woodland Trust woodland officer Tim Kirwin.

“The aim is to re-connect local people with their environment and reverse elements of antisocial behaviour,” he said of the target area around Warrington and Runcorn.

The zone straddled two boroughs containing some of the most deprived wards in England and within one mile of an estimated 155,000 people, Kirwin said.

“We want to increase local appreciation of woodland and tackle attitudes behind current antisocial activities and the dumping of rubbish.”

Events will include woodland-discovery sessions for schools, conservation work and efforts to help “make the sites an asset to the area rather than a blight”.

Mr Kirwin observed: “It will involve transforming areas that are often deserted and sometimes litter-strewn into bustling outdoor community facilities and give people the confidence to use woodland more fully.

“Many people in the area are just not connected with their natural environment, so we need to find ways to help make that happen, with schools playing a big part.”

Another project to receive the lottery funding was Wild About Plants, a project lead by charity Plantlife, which has received £327,000.

Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “Modern life can mean losing regular contact with nature, and we must find a way of putting people back in touch.”

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 13/01/2009

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