B-lines Project bid success

Buglife’s “Severn B-Lines” project, which will be run in Shropshire, is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Defra announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million today, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted – 800,000 in total – and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

Buglife, which has been awarded a £184,000 grant through the Fund, will deliver a new B-Lines project between Apley and Telford in Shropshire running alongside the River Severn. Working in partnership with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and various landowners, the Severn B-Lines project will restore a 5 mile stretch of agricultural land into beautiful wildflower floodplain meadows and help the recovery of pollinator insects. The project, which will create two new jobs, will establish habitat corridors and stepping-stones for insects to disperse and re-colonise.

Through the project Buglife will work Telford & Wrekin Council, Madeley Town Council, The Apley Estate and Gorge Parish Council to create and restore 20 hectares of species-rich grassland habitat across 19 sites, enabling pollinator insects such as bees, wasps, butterflies and moths to create new colonies and nesting sites and facilitate their long-term recovery in the area.  Running alongside the National Cycle Routes 45 and 55 and the River Severn, the restored species-rich floodplain meadows will provide attractive and accessible active travel-corridors where people can engage with nature to help improve their health and wellbeing.

The project will also benefit the local community by providing opportunities for practical conservation volunteering, pollinator advice workshops and community events – such as on wildlife gardening – and schools education sessions. In addition, it will create a new farmer and landowner cluster group led by The Apley Estate, to communicate pollinator-friendly farming techniques and inspire other landowners to restore additional species-rich grasslands ideal for pollinators on their own sites.

Commenting on the award, Buglife Conservation Officer, Hayley Herridge said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from DEFRA following a competitive application process to deliver our first B-Lines project in Shropshire. In England alone we have lost over 97% of our wildflower meadows since the 1930s which has resulted in a serious decline in pollinator insects. Through an exciting partnership between local landowners, delivery partners and communities, the project will create a better-connected network of wildflowers, providing important habitat for pollinators, whilst helping to mitigate against climate change”.

Graeme Manton, Estate Manager at The Apley Estate said:

“Apley is committed to delivering a sustainable vision across the estate.  We look after all 8,500 acres of the estate which includes parkland, farmland and forestry with a keen focus on biodiversity and the ecological impact of our activities. We are incredibly excited to be working with Buglife to turn some of our agricultural land into species-rich grasslands for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Pollinator insects are vital to the agricultural economy and local ecosystems, but we also realise the vast benefits for people locally and the many visitors from Telford and the Black Country in terms of increasing access to nature and the joy it brings”.

Pete Lambert, River Project Manager, Shropshire Wildlife Trust

“The River Severn is the UK’s longest river and a significant corridor for migratory species such as birds, fish and powerful winged invertebrates such as the Club tailed dragonfly.  With the announcement today our pollinator friends will also see the first stepping stone of a  floral pathway laid out from lofty mountain source in mid-Wales to the final sweep of the estuary. We are pleased to be part of an exciting partnership doing positive things for the smallest members of the natural world which is taken so often for granted and without whom we would live in an impoverished, duller and quieter world.”

Cllr Carolyn Healy “Cabinet Member for Visitor Economy, Historic & Natural Environment and Climate Change” Telford and Wrekin Council

“Telford and Wrekin Council is delighted to be working with Buglife on this project. The meadow areas at Rough Park are extremely diverse providing a wonderful habitat for lots of different invertebrate species. One of those is the dingy skipper butterfly which has declined in numbers nationally but thrives on the open grassland of Rough Park. With over 97% of wildflower meadows in the UK lost since the 1930s, projects like this are helping to protect this valuable habitat and lock in carbon as part of our work to tackle climate change.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change.  The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“These projects will drive forward work across England to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create green jobs, and will be a vital part of helping us to build back greener from coronavirus.

“I look forward to working with environmental organisations as these projects help address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, while creating and retaining jobs as part of the green recovery.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Supporting our natural environment is one of the most valuable things we can do right now. All these projects are of huge benefit to our beautiful countryside and wildlife, but will also support jobs, health and wellbeing, which are vitally important as we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.”