- New Nature Neighbourhoods initiative will support 18 community organisations across the UK to create people-powered plans for nature in their neighbourhoods.
- With a focus on urban areas where it can be difficult for people to access nature, the project responds to calls from the People’s Plan for Nature for investment to help people stand up for nature where they live.
- The partnership project will see local organisations supported by the UK’s largest nature charities, with funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and Co-op.
- The Nature Neighbourhoods project will look at the root causes of the nature and climate crises in a local context, bringing communities together with local decision makers to make nature and climate action an essential part of future planning.
It is widely known how being close to nature and green spaces is good not only for our physical health, but also for our mental wellbeing. The Nature Neighbourhoods project aims to help more people benefit from all the advantages nature can bring, in being right on their doorstep.
Three-quarters of people in the UK are worried about the state of nature, yet we are in the bottom 10% of countries globally for protecting it. In March 2023, the People’s Plan for Nature set out recommendations to reverse the UK’s shocking declines in nature, including calls for greater investment in ways to help communities take action to protect and renew nature at a neighbourhood level. The Nature Neighbourhoods project is a direct response to those calls.
As part of the Nature Neighbourhoods project, 18 community organisations will receive support from three of the UK’s largest nature charities – WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust. The organisations have come together as part of Save Our Wild Isles, an ongoing partnership to take action for nature’s recovery in the UK, and along with leading convenience retailer Co-op will support communities to create people-powered plans for nature in their local area.
Each Nature Neighbourhood plan will be created by bringing local communities and decision makers together to ensure each plan centres on the community’s priorities for tackling the nature and climate crises. There will be a particular focus on working with urban communities, as while most people live in town and cities, there are often substantial barriers to accessing nature in urban environments, along with higher social and economic inequalities.
Nature Neighbourhoods has been funded by a £750,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, and £300,000 from Co-op. Thanks to National Lottery players, Co-op’s strong reach – with a store in every postal area – and on-the-ground support from Co-op members and its Member Pioneers, the project will help 18 local partners mobilise their communities and lead positive change for nature and people, through training, financial aid and collaborating with local authorities.
Rory Crawford, Project Manager for the Nature Neighbourhoods partnership, said: “Urban nature doesn’t tend to be the focus of wildlife documentaries. But most of us live in urban areas, and they present the biggest opportunity for people to access and take action for nature on a day-to-day basis.
“Efforts to improve access and tackle the biodiversity and climate crises have not tended to focus on neighbourhoods experiencing high levels of deprivation, but the local community organisations involved in this project are at the forefront of addressing this, through community gardens, improving parks, connecting young people to nature, community inclusion, creating new green spaces and supporting safe, active travel.”
The national charities will work closely with local organisations such as community centres, social enterprises, and volunteer food growing collectives. These community organisations will be supported to bring together local residents, businesses and decision makers, and understand what they want and need in order to create a long-term plan for nature in their neighbourhoods.