More than £650,000 of Government funding has been handed out to projects to help rare species and restore habitats in Birmingham.
The Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust joined together with environmentally-aware partners to bid for a share of £7.5 million so it could improve the area’s heathland, grassland, rivers and canals.
A huge 60,000-hectare “nature improvement area” incorporating Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton stands to benefit from projects paid for by the grant.
The bid by the Trust, the lead organisation in the project, and partners including the five local authorities and British Waterways, was among 12 winners out of 76 who applied for a slice of the money, as announced by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman in Walsall.
Other groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Woodland Trust, Birmingham Friends of the Earth and the Black Country Geological Society were also part of the successful bid.
Neil Wyatt, chief executive of the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust said today: “It’s been a very anxious time while we waited to see about funding, but this is great news for the area. It’s a badge for the area to wear that’s going to encourage investment into our natural environment.”
Mr Wyatt said other cash could come from sources such as the National Lottery, Landfill Tax and from the Environment Agency under the EU Water Framework Directive, which seeks to improve eco-systems in lakes, streams and rivers. Tributaries of the rivers Tame, Cole and Rea would be among those benefiting.
“We have fantastic waterways across the area but there are bits that are quite grotty,” he added.
“We’ve also got 12 woodland sites which have been planted but there’s a lack of connectedness and they are not reaching anything near their potential. We’ll also create more grassland, and train friends’ groups on various sites to use a hay baler and in safe use of certain pesticides to control weeds like Japanese knotweed that cause problems.”
Other projects funded include improving habitats at Walsall Country Park, creating more heathland at Barr Beacon, and developing a wildlife corridor in Dudley for bats.