The project aims to test different ways of getting the public involved in improving open spaces.

People power key to new wildlife havens

People power will be the driving force behind new wildlife havens in three Cornish towns.

Small sites in Newquay, Launceston and Helston will become thriving hubs for biodiversity and for local people to visit and enjoy.

The project – called Growing Communities Through Nature – is co-ordinated by the University of Exeter and aims to test different ways of getting the public involved in improving open spaces.

A £38,000 grant for the project from UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) “Enhancing Place-Based Partnerships in Public Engagement” programme was announced yesterday (Thursday).

“Two small grassy spaces will be transformed by local people, boosting both biodiversity and community engagement,” said Melissa Muir, of the University of Exeter.

“The third is working with an existing community group and established park to work on an under-used corner.

“Although the general aim is to improve biodiversity and create spaces for local people to use, the design of these new spaces is very much up to those local people themselves.

“We want to encourage researchers, local government and local community organisations to work together to engage residents in the design of their local green spaces, highlighting what we can do in our local area to help mitigate climate change.”

Growing Communities Through Nature is a partnership between the University of Exeter, Cornwall Council, South Kerrier Alliance Community Interest Company and Cornwall’s Voluntary Sector Forum.

The project will test if working with established voluntary organisations and self-organised community groups leads to different levels of interest in the sites.

“We want people to engage more with local green spaces, and to understand how well different approaches work,” said Professor Jane Wills.

“If people are closely involved in the creation of sites, we hope they will also be more likely to use them in the future.

“Our results could help inform future improvements in Cornwall and further afield.”

The project sites are located at: Ridegrove Estate in Launceston, Coronation Park in Helston and a space in Newquay.

To find out more, email Melissa Muir:

The project is one of 53 across the UK to win a share of £1.4m from UKRI.

The schemes are intended to “enable members of the public to actively contribute to research and innovation projects that affect their lives”.

Cornwall Council and the University of Exeter are already working together on an ambitious project called Making Space for Nature, which turns neglected open spaces into places for people and wildlife.

Growing Communities through Nature will complement the work being done on community engagement within this project.

This work has revealed an opportunity for co-creating and co-monitoring the activity with the local community.

Date: 7 February 2020