Nextdoor Nature Pioneers start community group

The Nextdoor Nature Pioneers Programme has worked with over 30 communities across Scotland. The programme aims to give aspiring community leaders the skills, knowledge and confidence to organise action for nature in their local areas.

Over the last 18 months, the programme has worked with three regional cohorts with communities from the Greater Glasgow area, the Forth Valley Catchment and communities on the east coast from Dundee to Aberdeen.

© Scottish Wildlife Trust

During the second cohort, three pioneers banded together to create a group that would enable them to reach more people and organise more action for nature.

We sat down with Andri, Heather and Jane to find out more about Almond Valley Nature Action.

© Scottish Wildlife Trust

How did the Almond Valley Nature Action (AVNA) group come about?

We formed Almond Valley Nature Action (AVNA) after meeting on the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Nextdoor Nature Pioneers Programme. We each have our own local projects, so Andri and Jane started to discuss forming a group to go forward after our time with the second cohort came to an end.

As we live fairly close to one another it made perfect sense to join forces. We could take on committee roles, constitute a group, and then be able to open a bank account and apply for funding. Heather, who is also local, agreed to be part of the group, so AVNA was born.

How are things going with the group?

Since signing our constitution in November, we now have an online presence through our blog and social media accounts. We promote nature friendly practices and share information on things people can do for nature in their own outdoor spaces and communities.

We are hoping to grow our membership, getting together with like-minded people who also want to take action for nature. This could be through increasing biodiversity, improving habitats, promoting connection with nature, or wildlife recording.

We set up AVNA in a way that means members can run their own projects and apply for their own grants while avoiding the time-consuming process and admin burden of starting a new group from scratch. They don’t have to start their own project and can volunteer to help with other people’s projects instead.

We want to create a group where members can cooperate with each other, share tools and resources and crucially, provide support, knowledge and enthusiasm!

What have you got planned for the future?

Our first event will be a short ramble in Livingston, looking for signs of spring while having a blether. Later in the year we’re planning a bat event and having secured funding from TCV’s Chestnut Fund we’ll be inviting some wildlife experts along to our walks, and to promote learning and training opportunities for our members. We’ve also secured some funding from the West Lothian Climate Action Network’s Eco Fund which will help a lot!

Each of us has our own plans to take action for nature, supported by AVNA. One plan involves planting fruit trees and flowers on an unused area of grass between houses. This would help pollinators and reduce the amount of mowing needed as well as reducing the amount of chemicals used there.

One of us is planning a project to establish a Bee Walk in Livingston Village Park to carry out bumblebee surveying from March to October. We hope this will provide useful data, while also giving us the change to continue learning more about bumblebees and the flowers they love to feast on!

Another plan is for a community nature garden in a shared greenspace. Using small signs on the site as well as social media posts, the garden will highlight native plants and encourage gardening for wildlife through the year.

How can people find out more and get involved with Almond Valley Nature Action?

Anyone over the age of 18 living in the Almond Valley area can become a member of the group. You can also follow us on social media to find details of our upcoming events. If you want to get in touch, you can contact us through our website.

Further information

The Trust has also been able to extend the Nextdoor Nature project meaning a fourth cohort will be starting in April 2024. This cohort will be working with communities in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian. 


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The Nextdoor Nature Pioneers Programme has worked with over 30 communities across Scotland. The programme aims to give aspiring community leaders the skills, knowledge and confidence to organise action for …

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