Improving the Natural Prospects of Birmingham and the Black Country

Monday 13th March 2017

Learning to use a bow saw

National lottery invests in The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country to address skills gap in natural heritage sector.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country has been successful in securing funding to address two significant challenges for the future of the nature conservation sector: the skills gap for local people to enter the natural conservation sector and the shortage of practical land management and community engagement skills.

The Natural Prospects programme will provide a yearlong traineeship, with paid bursary, to six people each year over four years. Trainees will develop skills and experience including traditional land management practices, ecological processes and the ability to engage people with the natural heritage of their local area.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country will lead the partnership project that involves Birmingham City Council, Walsall Council, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Wolverhampton City Council.

Georgia Stokes, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country said:

“We are delighted to receive support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this vital project to build local the skills and knowledge base for nature conservation and bring more local people into the sector. Over half of UK species have declined since 1970. At the same time we are becoming more disconnected from nature. A recent study found that children are better able to identify a dalek than a magpie. We are gradually losing our collective knowledge to identify species in nature, and importantly to know how to look after it. Parents often reflect at our events that they would like to have the knowledge their grandparents had about birds, trees and insects to share with their own children.

“Natural Prospects will give local people a chance to develop their skills and knowledge about their local environment and to pass their new skills on. Each trainee will learn how to engage others with nature. Natural Prospects provides a viable and funded pathway to employment within the sector with the most relevant qualification and experience within 12 months.”

Natural Prospects is one of eighteen projects that were successful in their application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which is investing £10.1m across the UK to help train a new and more diverse generation of heritage craftspeople, digital specialists and entrepreneurs.

Tracey Crouch, Heritage Minister, said:

“Investing in new heritage talent will ensure we build a more sustainable sector, protect our treasured history and continue to attract visitors from across the globe.

"I’m delighted to see money raised by National Lottery players being used to train and develop people’s skills and deliver on our promise in the Culture White Paper."


Notes to Editors

1. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country works to create a Living Landscape for wildlife and people in Birmingham and the Black Country. We champion wildlife and green spaces, caring for the natural heritage of the area. We support communities and friends groups to help them look after and enjoy their local wildlife and natural heritage. Our education projects introduce children to the natural world and help local people understand and appreciate their environment and the contribution wildlife makes to their wellbeing.
2. The 2016 State of Nature Report revealed that over half (56%) of UK species studied have declined since 1970, while more than one in ten (1,199 species) of the nearly 8000 species assessed in the UK are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether. It notes that “England’s varied urban green spaces provide refuge to species that may have lost significant semi-natural habitat elsewhere” and recognizes that “Sharing our space effectively with urban wildlife” is fundamental to reversing this decline.
3. Our Natural Childhood report by the National Trust finds that children are so unfamiliar with some of our commonest wild creatures that one in three can’t identify a magpie - yet nine out of ten can recognise a dalek

Tagged with: Birmingham, Employment, Funding, Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Childhood, Natural Prospects, Skills, Skills gap, State of nature, Training, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wildlife trust, Wolverhampton