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The Natural Environment Awards 2023

The WMCA (West Midlands Combined Authority) have launched the region’s first Natural Environment Awards, sponsored by KPMG, to celebrate the successes of organisations on restoring and protecting nature.

Any community group within the West Midlands can apply to either be awarded as highly commended or the winner of the community category.

Whether you are a faith group that host weekly gardening sessions with your community, or a charity responsible for restoring the local canal and creating new habitats for wildlife and birds, we want to hear from you.

Awards will also be given to businesses, educational institutions, and public sector organisations. Applications are open now until the 16th January 2023.

Andy Street,  Mayor of the West Midlands, will present the award ceremony on Tuesday, 21st March 2023.

Download the application guidance document and the application form.

Questions?  Please get in touch at WMGreenerTogether@wmca.uk.org

West Midlands Community Flood Resilience – Free training

Communities Prepared is a national community resilience programme, run by Groundwork West Midlands, equipping community volunteer groups with the knowledge, skills and confidence to prepare for, respond to, and recover from flooding and other emergencies.

Communities Prepared has two free upcoming online sessions for people living in the West Midlands who are concerned about flooding and what they can do as a community in response to it.

  1. Thursday, 6th October; 6 – 7.30 pm. Introduction to Incident Management.  An introduction to emergency response. Procedures and planning for community emergency volunteers.
  2. Wednesday, 12th October; 6 – 8 pm.  Flood Volunteer. Understanding flooding and your role as a community emergency volunteer. Flood risk awareness and tips to help you carry out your role as a community volunteer in a safe and responsible

Register for each webinar at www.communitiesprepared.org.uk/westmids to receive the Zoom meeting link.

For further information, or if you have a question, please contact abi.rees@groundwork.org.uk

Facebook: @CommunitiesPrepared

Twitter: @CommunitiesPrep

More information


WMCA Community Green Grants

WMCA Community Green Grants is happy to share that the fund is still open to eligible organisations in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton.

It was a pleasure to visit Old Hall Peoples Partnership in Bentley Walsall as they prepare for the transformation of the centre’s green space. OHPP were awarded funding in April to transform the underused area into a pocket park where the community can engage with food sustainability through growing fruit and vegetables and a regular gardening club. There are also plans to cultivate wildflower areas and habitats for birds, bugs, and butterflies.

To see a short video clip of the garden project click here.

Diana Birkett COE of OHPP shared how the inspiration for the project came from experiencing how much gardening at home helped with her own wellbeing. She realised how beneficial engaging with nature can be and wanted to create a space where the centre users and local community can learn about plants and experience the benefits of time spent in green space. The project is in the early stages but will be gradually turned into a vibrant colourful space over the funded period of 12 months. The garden will remain as an accessible green space to be enjoyed by many for years to come.

Apply now for WMCA Community Green Grants:

All information including online application and fund factsheet can be found on the Heart of England Community Foundation website: WMCA Community Green Grants

The Community Green Grant is focused on improving access to nature in areas of deprivation with limited access to green space.

We have small and large grants available:

Small Grants £3,000 to £25,000
Community groups and organisations will be encouraged to apply for small grants that connect local people to nature. The panel welcome creative ideas that meet the grant criteria.

Large Grants £25,000 to £100,000
For organisations with large scale plans that will create significant sustainable projects that help people connect to nature and improve the local environment.

If you have an idea to transform a green/ blue space or even green an unused car park, then please get in touch with Community Green Grants officer Ruth Burgess CommunityGreenGrants@wmca.org.uk to discuss your project.

A New Leaf! How community organisations can plant themselves at the root of climate change

Sandwell schools and community organisations have a unique opportunity to plant themselves at the root of the climate change race, and leave a legacy for future generations. If you have a tennis court-sized piece of land at your disposal, you could become part of the Tiny Forest programme, helping Birmingham 2022 in their pledge to be the first carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games.

As Birmingham 2022’s Official Nature and Carbon Neutral Supporter, Severn Trent is delivering a series of initiatives, including the creation of 72 tennis court-sized Tiny Forests, to be built in urban areas across the West Midlands. The sites will leave a positive social and environmental legacy, and in doing so, will increase resilience across the region against the threats of climate change and nature loss.

Schools and community groups in the West Midlands have until Friday 26th November to express an interest in hosting a Tiny Forest. Applications also remain open for land owners interested in being part of the Commonwealth Forest. All applications can be made using this link Legacy forests | Severn Trent Water (stwater.co.uk)

The forests will play an important role in connecting thousands of people with nature on their doorstep, and environmental education across the Midlands. Local communities will be invited to help Earthwatch Europe collect data and assess the benefits of the Tiny Forest in their area, including carbon absorption, flood management and the benefit on biodiversity, and community wellbeing as the sites develop.
Severn Trent and Earthwatch Europe will also provide training and resources for schools to help use the Tiny Forest as an inspiring outdoor classroom, with hands-on workshops allowing children to learn first-hand about nature and the environment.

Severn Trent’s Forest Delivery Team are available to answer any questions and can be contacted at forestdelivery@severntrent.co.uk

Your Carbon Footprint – what you can do to help tackle climate change

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in Glasgow between 31st October – 12th November 2021.

Delegates from across the globe will come together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

And we all have a part to play in achieving these goals – whether that’s as individuals, communities or organisations.

“But what can we do (practically and on a day-to-day basis) to play our part?” is a question that’s often asked, simply because the task at hand seems to be so huge.

Well, there’s a FREE online tool that helps individuals to calculate their carbon footprint and then work towards reducing it by taking manageable steps with everyday things … including simple actions like not using non-recyclable wrapping paper, for example, or only boiling enough water for the drink you’re going to make (rather than a whole kettle).

The tool is called Giki Zero and works by asking a few simple and straightforward lifestyle questions (you can answer in more detail once you get the hang of things and that gives a more detailed ‘score’). Answering these questions gives you an initial estimate of your carbon footprint that you can track on your Progress Page. This is the “go to” page for all your headline personalised information where you can see how your carbon footprint shapes up and what your Giki score is. Every month you’ll see a new challenge with selected steps at the top. We’ve even built you a personalised Climate Clock so you can see how long we’ve got left until the global carbon budget runs out!

Why not try it out and then encourage friends, family, colleagues and contacts/clients to sign up too … maybe you could have a ‘league table’ of people’s Giki scores?

To show you how straightforward it is, I’ve signed up today and my score started at 432 … which isn’t great, to be honest. A score of 500 is really the first ‘target’ and the larger the score the better you’re doing! Anyway, by taking a few simple steps, I’ve already increased my score to 439. It might not seem like much, but if everyone were to do the same then we’d reach our climate goals all the more quickly – there is very definitely ‘strength in numbers’ where climate change action is concerned.

Love, Protect and Respect Sandwell Parks During Love Parks Week 2021

Sandwell’s welcoming, safe and well-maintained parks provided a vital lifeline for many during lockdown, and now we can Love, Respect and Protect our parks during the annual Love Parks Week, which runs until 1 August 2021.

How can you get involved in Love Parks Week?

Love Parks

Sandwell has 14 parks and green spaces which have been designated Green Flag status, awarded by Keep Britain Tidy to places that are well looked after and that look great. Sandwell’s list includes a park in each of the six towns, a cemetery and a crematorium, as well as Sandwell Valley Country Park and community-run Warley Woods.

For more information about parks in Sandwell, visit https://www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200249/parks_in_sandwell

Protect Parks

Sandwell Council asks local people to behave sensibly when they visit our parks and open spaces, to respect the plants and resources, and to report any anti-social behaviour they observe to the police or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Respect Parks

Visitors can follow this code to respect their local parks:

  • Be friendly and share the space
  • Respect those working in the park
  • If the bins are full, take your litter home
  • Care for nature – do not cause damage or disturb wildlife
  • Keep your dog under control, and bag and bin dog poo – any bin will do.

Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member Strong & Resilient Communities, said: “We are very proud to have Green Flag status for 14 of our parks and green spaces. They are a great place for a picnic, for children to keep active on play equipment, a walk with the dog or just a quiet sit down on a bench for a while.

“Our parks are for everyone and we hope to continue to have many visitors not just during Love Parks Week but throughout the year.”

Councillor Rajbir Singh, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “We hope that the many families who visit our parks over the summer holidays will also Love, Protect and Respect them, even after Love Parks Week has finished. Our parks team work really hard throughout the year to maintain and enhance what we have on offer. And I would also want to thank our many active Friends groups, who volunteer and make such an important contribution to our parks across the borough.”

Love Parks Week is delivered by Love Parks, Keep Britain Tidy and People’s Postcode Lottery.

Free Trees for Community Groups and Schools

The Woodland Trust has announced that it has thousands of free tree packs available to community groups and schools across the UK, plus nurseries, colleges, universities and outdoor learning centres. The trees are available for planting on an area that is accessible to the public so that it can be used and enjoyed by others. If applying as a school, trees should be planted on either the school grounds, land the school has arranged regular access to or in an area that is publicly accessible.

Applications for a tree pack for a community group need to:

  • State that the land is accessible to the public
  • Make sure the local community is aware of the plans to plant and is happy for the project to go ahead
  • Be applying for up to 420 trees in each application cycle or season.

There are two delivery periods per year in November and March, when the trees are dormant and perfect for planting.

Applications are currently being accepted for trees to be delivered in March 2021.

For more details on how to claim your FREE trees click here.

Heritage Lottery – Government’s £40million Green Recovery Challenge Fund Opens for Applications

Grants from £50,000 to £5m are now available to kick-start the nation’s green recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we are distributing the Green Recovery Challenge Fund on behalf of Defra. We are committed to supporting the nature and environment sector quickly and effectively through this fund.”

Who is it for

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is open to environmental charities and partnerships that include at least one environmental charity, with projects in England that are ready to start.

All projects must contribute to at least one of the following themes:

  • nature conservation and restoration
  • nature based solutions, particularly focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation such as through tree planting and restoring peatland
  • connecting people with nature
  • Projects will be favoured that create or retain jobs, providing opportunities and benefits for all ages, including young people. Projects from both rural, urban and inshore marine areas are welcomed.

How to apply

Applications for grants up to £250,000 must be submitted by midday on 2 October 2020. For applications over £250,000, there is a two-step process, with initial expressions of interest required by midday on 24 September 2020.

Up to 100% of project costs will be available.

Please read the full criteria and application guidance before submitting your application.

Applications under £250k

When you are ready to apply, complete and submit your application via their Application Portal.
If you do not already have a logon you will need to register.

Applications over £250k: Expressions of Interest

For applications for a grant above £250,000 a short Expression of Interest (EOI) form is mandatory. Guidance on the questions to be answered and a copy of the form is available.

An assessment panel involving all the Fund partners will use the information you provide to decide whether or not to invite you to submit a full grant application. If you are not invited to apply we will explain our reason.

We will aim to respond to all EOIs within ten working days of the deadline. You will then have three weeks to submit a full application.

Click here to submit your Expression of Interest.

A greener future

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund, part of a wider HM Government green economic recovery jobs and skills package, will enable environmental charities and their partners to restore nature and tackle climate change.

The fund will help create up to 3,000 jobs such as ecologists, surveyors, nature reserve staff and education workers. In additional, it will safeguard up to 2,000 existing jobs in areas such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, conservation rangers and connecting people with nature. It will also support suppliers in areas such as agricultural engineering, horticulture, and equipment and seed supply.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing the Green Recovery Challenge Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency, on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). It has been made possible by bringing forward funding announced at Budget 2020 including £10m from the Nature Recovery Fund and £30m of Nature for Climate Funding.

For more information click here.

Source: Heritage Fund

Free Trees for Schools and Communities

The Woodland trust want to make sure everybody in the UK has the chance to plant a tree. So they’re giving away hundreds of thousands of trees to schools and communities.

Successful tree pack applicants will receive their trees in March 2021. All their subsidised or free products have defined eligibility criteria; should you not meet those, or they consider the product to be otherwise unsuitable, they will offer the most appropriate product available.

For more information or to apply for a pack click here.

Pebble Fund

PEBBLE is the biodiversity improvement fund from South Staffs Water.

Funding of up to £10,000 is available for community projects within our supply area that create, restore or improve habitat.

Three levels of funding ranging from £500 to £10,000 is available to organisations keen to enhance biodiversity within the South Staffs Water area of supply.

You can apply for any amount of funding, this table is a guide to show you the amount of funding which has previously been awarded for projects.

Type of project  Previous projects received:

  • Pond creation/restoration £500 – £2,000
  • Community gardens and outdoor classroom (including sensory gardens) £500 – £4,000
  • Species specific habitat (e.g birds) £500 – £4,000
  • Wildflower areas and habitat restoration £500 – £4,000
  • Tree planting £1,000 – £5,000
  • Invasive non-native species £1,000 – £6,000
  • Ecological monitoring (and volunteering) £1,000 – £8,000
  • River restoration £1,500 – £10,000

Projects outside of these categories are accepted and the projects above are just a guide to help applicants avoid disappointment if their project is not fully funded. If your project falls into one of these categories but you feel your costs will exceed the amount stated, it may be beneficial to include a detailed cost breakdown with your application.

Dan Clark, Water Resources and Environment Manager for South Staffs Water, said:

“At South Staffs Water, we recognise the importance of the local environment, and the part we play in the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity. Increasing the variety of natural living things and the diversity of the habitats where they live not only benefits wildlife, it can also enhance local communities and our open spaces.”

Applications are welcomed from schools, youth groups, charities or community organisations. They must either own the land or have permission from the landowner for the project and the work cannot have already taken place.

The applications window is open between 1 May and 31 July 2020 and funds will be transferred during December. The elements of your project that are funded by PEBBLE should be complete by the end of the following financial year (the third year).

Project reports should be submitted two months after the project is complete. If the project is likely to extend past this time, please include a breakdown of estimated project delivery in your application.

To find out more about the PEBBLE Fund or to apply click here.

Source: South Staffs Water

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