World Environment Day - New funds for nature will help communities plant the seeds for the Wales we want to see post Covid-19
To mark World Environment Day, the Welsh Government has announced the opening of two new funds which will help people across Wales create places for nature in their own communities, once the nation looks to move beyond the current pandemic.
As lockdown has progressed, many people have had the opportunity to appreciate the importance of Wales’ natural environment to our wellbeing.
Many have taken daily exercise in local parks or green areas, many have been watching Welsh wildlife streamed live online, many have supported their local food producers who care for our natural environment every day of the year.
The Welsh Government declaration of a Climate Emergency in April of 2019 has been matched with a growing determination from public bodies, businesses and communities to play a greater role in reducing our emissions, adapting to climate change and protecting the natural environment.
Despite the current pandemic, this determination has only increased, with a lively debate about the need for the recovery from Covid-19 to demonstrate an even stronger focus on action for nature.
Applications are now open for two funds – the National Forest Community Woodland Grant Fund, and the Local Places for Nature Capital Fund – to help communities and organisations fulfil their role in responding to the climate emergency.
The funds will be delivered in a collaboration between the Welsh Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with applications handled by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Applicants will be able to apply to both grants from today, with applications expected to take no more than eight weeks for approval.
Due to continued restrictions, while guidelines allow for charity work to continue under two-meter distancing rules, it is expected that organisations will limit the amount of members involved in projects – though this will be reviewed as guidelines change.
The National Forest Community Woodland Grant Fund will allow not-for-profit organisations to apply for funds for woodland projects, which help meet the needs of local communities and help boost ecosystems.
This could include the creation of new woodland on derelict sites; the planting of trees on streets in urban neighbourhoods, or creating new corridors of trees to link existing woodlands.
The scheme is just one part of the National Forest programme announced in the spring, which aims to create a single connected ecological network stretching throughout Wales.
The fund may also be used for improvements to existing woodland areas, through the installation of footpaths or improving access.
The Local Places for Nature Capital Fund will and give people the chance to create nature on their doorsteps.
The scheme is aimed at community organisations to restore and enhance nature in their local areas, particularly in Wales’ most disadvantaged communities, and those with little access to nature.
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