Wilder and better: stories of change

Examples from around The Wildlife Trusts where helping nature to recover is helping to improve life for people.

Restoring river habitat, fish stocks and flood protection - Winnall Moors, Hampshire

At Winnall Moors in Hampshire, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has been working with local people and anglers to improve habitats in and along the River Itchen. This work has seen a remarkable recovery of populations of wildlife and wild fish stocks in this urban wildlife reserve and has restored the natural flood protection processes provided by these habitats. It is an award-winning project delivering many and varied benefits to the local area. 

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Repairing peatland habitats for wildlife, water and carbon storage - Yorkshire 

The Yorkshire Peat Partnership is an ambitious approach to the restoration of the county’s internationally-important peatland habitats. Working with contractors, landowners and communities, this partnership between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the National Park Authority and government agencies, is reinstating functioning peatland ecosystems that will not only increase wildlife in these uplands areas, but improve water quality and the functioning of the peatland as a carbon sink – thus reducing the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere for generations to come. 

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Ecominds: using time in nature for improving mental health - Idle Valley, Nottinghamshire 

In Retford, Nottinghamshire, the Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group has commissioned the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to deliver the ‘Recovery Ecotherapy’ project at its Idle Valley Nature Reserve. This project welcomes local people who suffer from mental health problems to the reserve to participate in horticulture and conservation based activities. It is an innovative and effective example of an approach that uses nature-based activities to improve physical and mental health.

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Improving access to nature in urban areas - Birmingham and Black Country

The Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area led by The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country is working across five local authorities in the West Midlands (Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall), covering one of the largest urban areas in the country with a population of over 2 million people. With over 60 partner organisations on board, it is getting local people involved in its work to create a large network of accessible natural green spaces. This partnership approach is ambitious but has proved successful not only in benefiting nature, but also in making a positive contribution to the lives of local people, supporting the local economy and increasing the resilience of the area to the impacts of climate change

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Learning outdoors with nature- Forest Schools, Sussex

The Sussex Wildlife Trust, like many other local Wildlife Trusts across England, compliments its practical conservation work with an innovative Forest Schools programme. The Forest School approach brings children into regular and repeated contact with nature in their local area. Through participation in outdoor activities such as fire-lighting and cooking, den building and creating natural sculptures children become familiar with spending time in nature and are encouraged to develop their own ideas, skills and confidence. The many benefits of bringing children into regular contact with nature in this way are evident in the high demand for the programme from schools, youth groups, nurseries, and youth offender programmes across the county.

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Linking up wild places in the wider countryside - Working Wetlands, Devon

Through its Working Wetlands project, Devon Wildlife Trust is helping landowners carry out targeted management, restoration and creation of wet grassland habitats. The aim is to work with farmers to create better-linked areas of wildlife-rich Culm grassland in the wider countryside. This results in a working landscape that supports jobs and produces food while regaining its traditional function as a natural sponge: soaking up excess rainfall in times of flood and releasing it into waterways more slowly in times of drought. This reduces soil erosion – helping to improve water quality - as well as reducing the risk of serious flooding downstream. It’s an approach that really is using nature as a solution to a significant local problem.

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Improving health and wellbeing though volunteering outdoors - Tees Valley

The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust has been running an ‘Inclusive Volunteering Project’ since 2006. This project, which is one of many similar volunteering projects run by Wildlife Trusts across England, is designed to improve participant’s health and wellbeing through conservation volunteering on its nature reserves. The Trust has conducted a lot of research in measuring the positive health outcomes of its work, and as a result is now receiving referrals through the NHS, local authorities and many local mental health charities.

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