Region: West Midlands
The Community Environmental Trust is a registered charity that is located in Castle Vale, Birmingham.
The project engaged the community through a range of activities, and improved the Castle Vale Conservation Area, which is a large section of public land consisting of meadow, mixed grassland, woodland and a wildlife pond.
Funding allowed the Community Environmental Trust to deliver a range of activities and events suitable for all demographic groups in the community. Activities included practical conservation and gardening tasks; youth engagement activities and environmental activities for families; shared skills days, specialist training sessions and ecological surveys; and walks for health.
Community members volunteered to protect and enhance the Castle Vale Conservation area. A green barrier was created and a pond was restored to create new habitats. Access to the site was improved to increase its function as a community resource. A picnic area was created and two scenic walking routes were opened up, as well as pathways to neighbouring communities. The project was carried out with the ultimate aim of achieving Local Nature Reserve status.
“Population growth, urbanisation, housing developments and the need of new infrastructure are putting much of our existing local greenspaces under threat. Applying for HS2 funds was a great opportunity to help us enhance and protect our local, multi-functional conservation area, whilst delivering a wide range of environmental activities and projects that could, additionally, improve the quality of life for our local community.
The funding has allowed us to employ a member of staff whose main role is to engage with the community and offer outdoor activities, workshops and events. The delivery of practical volunteer sessions, has enabled participants with mental and physical issues to be active outdoors, undertaking activities which connect them to nature. The social interactions have been vital during and in the aftermath of the pandemic, and have promoted the development of friendships and reduction of social isolation, increasing health and wellbeing.
The impact of the project goes beyond those directly involved in the intervention though, as the conservation activities carried out have also helped to increase biodiversity and improve and enhance our local environment. Also, access and safety have been improved in the area by maintaining and managing paths, which has resulted in more people using the site, accessing areas previously unexplored and promoting wider social connection.”Alicia Grande Cristóbal, Community Environment Trust Project Manager & Forest School Practitioner