Nature Improvement Area bid for Birmingham and the Black Country

Plans have been submitted for one of the country’s first Nature Improvement Areas for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Rowley HillsIn its Natural Environment White Paper earlier this year, the government launched a competition allowing partnerships to bid for a share of a £7.5m grant fund to create up to 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) in England by next April. The scheme aims to support “large, discreet areas that will deliver a step change in nature conservation, where a local partnership has a shared vision for their natural environment”. Among the twenty second-phase bids submitted by yesterday’s deadline was one for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Led by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and The Black Country, the £650K Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA will delivered by and is supported by over forty partner organisations including the five local authorities (Birmingham City, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton City), Black Country Consortium, British Waterways, Natural England, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Birmingham Open Spaces Forum, Black Country Geological Society, plus voluntary groups such as the West Midlands Sustainability Forum, Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Birmingham Trees for Life and MADE.

The NIA includes the whole of Birmingham and the Black Country and activities undertaken will include enhancement and management of woodland, grassland restoration and management, heathland restoration and creation, improving wetland corridors along canals, rivers and streams, increasing connectivity of other wildlife corridors and stepping stones, promoting community engagement in NIA delivery, encouraging wildlifefriendly gardening and landscaping and integrating geodiversity.

Neil Wyatt, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust said: “Our vision for the Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA is to deliver a sustainable increase in benefits for wildlife and people across Birmingham and the Black Country at a landscape scale. The region has very few areas which could be described as natural habitat, but the things that we value, we have to manage and we see the NIA as a way to engage people with this. Our NIA is a sustainable, bold vision for the future. From our perspective we in Birmingham and the Black Country are slightly ahead of the game because a lot of the foundation work to necessary to achieve our ambitious plans is already being done.”