Black Country Living Landscape
The landscape of the Black Country has remarkable and often unexpected biodiversity assets, an incredibly diverse geology and numerous heritage features relating to the area’s rich legacy of industrial history. The region has Sites of Special Scientific Interest embedded in the urban fabric, the UK's first geological National Nature Reserve at the Wren's Nest in Dudley, many Local Nature Reserves and several hundred locally designated wildlife sites.
Between 2009 and 2012 the Black Country Living Landscape project created new greenspaces, improved existing sites for biodiversity and geodiversity and ensured that all this greenspace resource was accessible to everyone. The project was the catalyst for the designation of more Local Nature Reserves, the development of environmental tourism in the Black Country and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and active volunteering.
The team of four community officers raised awareness amongst local communities about the greenspace available on their doorstep and delivered a programme of learning to equip local people with the skills to take an active role in the environmental regeneration of the region. The team ran healthy walks, children's activities, training courses, work parties, school activities and wildlife survey road shows. Some 19,000 people took part in the activities and the team worked with 83 local groups and 20 schools and colleges over the three year period. The project was targeted at anyone who lived in the Black Country, but particularly those living in the most deprived areas.
"It has given us the confidence to take on environmental based work, regarding the conservation of our open spaces and planting projects, that we would not have done due to the lack of knowledge and funding....and through networking with other groups we have been able to gain training and other benefits from cooperative working"
Hilton Community Association member
The programme was funded through an Access to Nature lottery grant with additional support provided by the Black Country Consortium, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country led and managed the project.
Black Country Living Landscape has contributed to the national targets for accessible natural greenspace - safe, well-managed, accessible and attractive places rich in wildlife that everyone can enjoy. Natural England's Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt) provides a set of benchmarks for ensuring access to places near to where people live. The UK MAB Urban Forum was instrumental in creating the precursor to the ANGSt targets for accessible natural greenspace.