Go wild

It’s not a huge, huge amount – when spread across eighteen parks and green spaces in Bath – but an investment of £165,000 to improve natural habitats and increase biodiversity is certainly better than nothing.

Eighteen parks and green spaces across Bath are set to benefit from improved natural habitats and increased biodiversity following a £165,000 investment.

The money has come as part of a B&NES council commitment to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and improve people’s health and wellbeing. The authority has awarded £90,000 to local charity Your Park Bristol & Bath for their Bath Activator Programme, developed to improve the city’s green infrastructure.

The funding comes from the Bath Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges imposed on developers. An additional £75,000 to support the work has been secured from the West of England Combined Authority’s Pollinator Fund.

The money will be used by the charity to reintroduce sustainable natural habitats to the city’s community-managed green spaces and encourage people to get into nature to improve their health, wellbeing, and quality of life.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Over the past thirty years, insect populations have declined by more than 30% due to habitat loss. Insect species matter to us all, with pollinators crucial to our food supply, so it’s imperative we reverse the decline. By reintroducing sustainable natural habitats into Bath’s green spaces at scale we’ll boost the city’s biodiversity.

“We also know that spending time in nature has a positive impact on people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing, so this investment will not only benefit insects and wildlife but residents and visitors as well.”

Your Park Bristol & Bath will consult closely with local residents, organisations and volunteers who know their local area best to decide exactly what’s needed. The work will include the creation of new meadows, ponds, planting of new trees and hedgerows.

Dan Norris, Metro Mayor, added: “Pollinators matter – in terms of helping flowers grow, but also in ensuring we can have the delicious West of England produce we’re renowned for year-round and keeping our precious countryside and green spaces maintained and cared for.

“That’s why I’m proud my Mayoral Combined Authority is investing in projects supporting our region’s pollinator friends like this one to improve not one, not two but 18 green spaces in the city – good news for Bathonians, and even better news for its bees.

“This will go a long way to make our amazing city an even better place for locals and pollinators alike to call home and help my Mayoral Combined Authority in our ambition to make the West the bee and pollinator capital of the whole country.”

To help ensure more local people enjoy the benefits of their green spaces, regular community gardening sessions will be arranged in parks without their own ‘Friends of’ volunteer groups, whilst those with active ‘Friends of’ volunteer groups will be supported to help enhance and maintain the spaces.

Charlee Bennett, CEO of Your Park Bristol and Bath, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding for our Bath Activator Programme. The two-year programme will help to improve the city’s green infrastructure, contributing to cleaner air and improved carbon absorption and providing vital, free spaces for people to go for their physical and mental wellbeing.

“We know that everybody has a connection to their local green space. Involving local people is core to the programme, whether that’s choosing which flowers are planted or getting involved in planting them, it all builds on that sense of ownership and means that people are more likely to stay engaged, use and look after the space.”

All the parks and green spaces in the programme are close to new developments or are destination parks that new residents in the Bath Enterprise Zone and Warminster Road developments will travel to use, such as Alexandra Park and Sydney Gardens. They also contribute to the city’s Nature Recovery Network.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team has been working closely with Your Park Bristol and Bath since 2020 to help deliver the council’s core aims of improving people’s lives and tackling the climate and ecological emergencies.

Founded in February 2019 as part of the national Rethinking Parks programme, Your Park Bristol & Bath is only the second parks foundation charity created in the UK, designed to reimagine how local communities can benefit from and support their parks and green spaces. The charity works closely with the two local authorities, Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council, who are responsible for the upkeep of the 2,000+ hectares of local parks and green spaces but operates completely independently in their parks.

To find out more and get involved visit Your Park Bristol and Bath.

More information about the West of England Combined Authority’s Pollinator Fund and it’s Bee Bold Awards.

Find out how Bath & North East Somerset Council is responding to the Ecological Emergency