Mobilising communities for nature

The first cohort of Nature Pioneers has embarked on their journey to mobilise community action for nature as part of the Nextdoor Nature project being led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Twelve people from seven community areas have committed to undertake a skills development course over the next six months that will provide them with the understanding, resources and confidence needed to organise action for nature where they live.

People walking and talking outdoors
Nextdoor Nature Pioneers Programme in person training day © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Developed by the Trust, the Nextdoor Nature Pioneers Programme involves a combination of online learning, interactive webinars and in-person events. Each participant will also be supported to deliver a community project that benefits wildlife and people. Their projects include community gardens, wildlife ponds and improving valuable river habitats.

The first cohort consists of participants from Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and south Glasgow.

Course participant, Amanda Jackson, from South Lanarkshire, is finding the course very beneficial. She said:“It is great being connected with other like minded people, sharing learning and experience. The staff have all been very welcoming and organised. They listen, encourage and are full of enthusiasm. I feel it has been a very positive learning environment.”

Pete Haskell, Head of Communications and Engagement at the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “After nearly a year of development, we’re delighted that the first cohort is underway. Plenty of people want to do more to help wildlife but knowing where to start can be a major barrier.

“Through the Pioneers Programme, we are providing participants with the broad range of skills and understanding required to mobilise their communities to take action for nature. Taking this community organising approach to our engagement work will mean a longer lasting impact in a larger number of places across Scotland.”

As well as having a positive impact on nature, empowering communities to take action in this way will provide other benefits. These include improved health and wellbeing of those involved and a greater sense of community pride and spirit in the local area.

The Pioneers Programme is central to the delivery of Nextdoor Nature in Scotland. A further two cohorts of participants will undertake the programme during this two-year project, which has been made possible thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“We have provided support to this pioneering project because communities and nature are at the heart of it. It is so important that local communities take an active role in environmental projects and provide inspiration to others to get involved and care for our precious natural heritage. We wish all the participants well and are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, their vital work will form part of a lasting legacy for the Jubilee year.”

Applications for the second cohort are open now focusing on communities within the Forth Valley area. The closing date is Sunday 30 April 2023.

Find out more about Nextdoor Nature and making an application to join the Pioneers Programme here.

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The first cohort of Nature Pioneers has embarked on their journey to mobilise community action for nature as part of the Nextdoor Nature project being led by the Scottish Wildlife …

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