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Ancient urban woodland restoration gets £25,000 Community Green Grant

Published: Wednesday 27 Sep 2023

The restoration of an ancient woodland in Birmingham is the latest nature project to be handed a Community Green Grant by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Friends of Pitts Wood in Quinton will use the £25,000 grant to restore water habitats, create new wildlife habitats, and improve access with new pathways, boardwalks, steps and bridges within the much-loved and nationally significant woodland.

The work will be carried out by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country and volunteers.

The WMCA’s Community Green Grant fund has now supported seven nature projects across Birmingham with grants totalling more than £100,000.

Men working in an ancient woodland

Volunteers Matt Hill, Dan Sheahan and Ian Jarvis at Pitts Wood in Quinton.

Pitts Wood - also known locally as The Spinney - is a remnant of a much larger, semi-natural ancient broad leaved wet woodland.

In the early 1900s, it was one of a small number of green spaces to be recognised nationally as a ‘Rothschild Reserve’ and 'worthy of preservation' by the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves – now The Wildlife Trusts.

Now a designated Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, the site is owned by Birmingham City Council and managed by the Friends group in partnership with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust.

Regular public open days and volunteer days are held, and there are longer term plans to build a shelter so community groups can have meetings and get togethers there.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “It’s wonderful to see the Friends of Pitts Wood and community groups of a similar nature springing up right across our region - taking the time to help protect our natural environment so that local people can enjoy the beautiful green spaces and waterways we’re blessed with here in the West Midlands.

“These dedicated people - many of them volunteers – are making a very practical difference to our quality of life - whether it’s by rejuvenating waterways, planting hundreds of trees or nurturing new habitats for a wide variety of wildlife.

“Our Community Green Grants were designed to help support this important work because we know the positive impact that time spent in nature can have on our physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why it’s fantastic to see so many great projects now coming to fruition. I cannot wait to see lives changed for the better in the months and years ahead.”

Clare Sandercock, chair of the Friends of Pitts Wood, said: “This is a great opportunity to improve the ecological value of Pitts Wood and provide safer access to more wetland areas whilst protecting the integrity of this unique ancient woodland.

“We hope that local schools will make use of Pitts Wood for environmental education, and we look forward to welcoming visitors from the wider community so they can benefit from the wonderful therapeutic environment of the wood and help us maintain it into the future.”

Across the West Midlands, so far 20 projects providing access to greenspace and nature have now shared more than £500,000 from the WMCA’s Community Green Grants fund.

It was set up to support locally led projects that enhance the biodiversity, protect endangered species, and improve access to green spaces and waterways for residents - one of the key aims of the region’s Natural Environment Plan.

Cllr John Cotton, WMCA portfolio holder for environment and energy, and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The opportunities and resources that Community Green Grants have given local organisations in Birmingham and across the whole region to improve their local environment and enjoy their green spaces will be felt for years to come.

“We’re looking forward to sharing further announcements in the coming weeks about how we’re going to invest in even more in locally led nature projects as part of our commitment to delivering a long-lasting legacy of last year’s Commonwealth Games.”

The seven nature projects in Birmingham to have been awarded Community Green Grants by the WMCA so far are:

  • Friends of Pitts Wood in Quinton - £24,700 to improve and restore the water habitats in the woodland and to increase safe access to various parts of the wood.
  • Rise Academy in Kingstanding - £8,494 to develop a school garden that is open to the wider community.
  • Sustainable Life in Stirchley - £16,050 to clear 1.6 acres of brambles on the Ten Acre site to make it accessible to the public and to restore a hidden orchard.
  • Kingstanding Regeneration Trust - £19,344 to clear a 70 sqm overgrown cottage garden at Brookvale Park and teach young people green skills.
    Marsh Hill Allotments, Stockland Green - £7,200 to install a wildlife pond and wildflower meadow to be used by schools and community groups.
  • Northfield Stroke Club - £11,170 to transform the unused green space around the Reaside Community Centre into a community garden with wildflowers, ponds, fruit and vegetable growing, bird boxes and other habitats.
  • Witton Lodge Community Association - £25,000 to transform underused areas at the Witton Lakes Eco Hub into an accessible, biodiverse sensory garden that includes creating nature trails, natural play areas, growing and meeting places for traditionally marginalised groups.

Find out more about all the recipients of WMCA Community Green Grants here.

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