Grow for it! Public to choose sites for a £100,000 green makeover
23 May 2013
Kew Gardens and the Big Lottery Fund launch new Grow Wild project with calls for the public to nominate flagship UK sites
The late May Bank Holiday weekend (25-26 May) sees the start of a dynamic £10.5m campaign to bring people and communities together to sow, grow and support UK native wild flowers. Grow Wild – a new campaign funded by the Big Lottery Fund– aims to inspire people to get together to transform unloved urban sites, gardens and windowsills into wildlife-friendly wild flower patches.
The first stage in the campaign is a call for people to nominate unloved or neglected sites, particularly in urban areas, throughout the UK for a Grow Wild makeover. The four winning sites will each receive a £100,000 to create an inspiring space using UK native plants for everyone to enjoy for years to come. Nominations can be made via the Grow Wild website at growwilduk.com
The campaign will also be featured in a special investigation report on BBC1’s Countryfile on Sunday 26 May which will explore why over 97% of the UK’s wild flower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, and how people can come together to create new havens for wildlife.
The four special Grow Wild sites – one each in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - will be selected from a shortlist of 16 (four in each country). The winners will be announced in the autumn of 2013. The sites will be ready for planting in spring 2014 and the blooming of the flowers in the summer of 2014 will mark the transformation of the sites.
Grow Wild is led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund as part of its mission to bring real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, through environment, health, education and charitable good causes across the UK.
The special Grow Wild sites are one part of the overall campaign that aims to inspire three million people to take direct action for UK native plants. Over the next three years, one million seed-sowing kits will be distributed through Grow Wild partners, with the particular aim of reaching young people, aged 12 -25, and new audiences who wouldn’t usually engage with environmental or community projects.
Speaking about the call for nominations, Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said:
"Grow Wild is about making connections. Connecting people with nature, connecting people with the places where they live, and connecting people with each other across generations. Wild plants can bring beauty to the most unlikely places; they are also the foundation of all life on Earth. Yet one in five British wild flowers is now threatened with extinction. Now Grow Wild is launching the search for great ideas aimed at rescuing wild plants in sites across the UK and engaging with volunteers who will enjoy getting their fingers dirty in order to leave a lasting legacy to the places where they live. "
Angela McFarlane, Director of Public Engagement and Learning for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said,
“We’re looking for sites that can be transformed using UK native plants to create inspiring places for people and wildlife. We’re currently working on an unloved city underpass which is now a thriving community market in Bristol, a site plagued with car vandalism which is being transformed in Scotland, a neglected graveyard in Selby and a derelict station in Edinburgh. Now we want to ask for ideas on an even bigger scale, and to find sites to be given a new lease of life by young people and local communities working together to make a difference to where they live.”
Nominations for Grow Wild sites should be made via the website at: www.growwilduk.com Closing date: 9 June 2013.
For further media information, images and interviews about Grow Wild, contact Claire Hyde on 020 8332 3840 Blackberry: 07884 261 464
Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888, Out of hours: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030, Text phone: 08456 021 659
Full details of the work of the Big Lottery Fund, its programmes and awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Notes to editors:
The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good-cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and awards grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK.
Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £5 billion to communities across the UK.
The £10 million funding for Grow Wild is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s investment in communities and young people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage, through community-led environmental action. It aims to raise awareness of our natural biodiversity, connect people with their neighbourhoods and engage them in the positive transformation of the environment.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development. Kew Gardens is also a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly two million visitors every year. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10% of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species).
The UK Native Seed-Hub was launched in 2011 and draws on the Millennium Seed Bank’s extensive collection of UK native seeds, as well as its horticultural and scientific expertise, to support the UK seed industry, conservation groups and other organisations working to restore native plants to the UK countryside.
Grow Wild – the benefits:
Improving community cohesion, health and wellbeing
• Well maintained green neighbourhoods have fewer crimes committed against people and property
• The mental-health charity Mind studied people who regularly take part in ‘green’ activities: 90% said it was the combination of nature and exercise that had the greatest effect on them, 94% said that green activities had benefited their mental health, lifting depression
• Gardening helps young people acquire the essential skills they need to fulfil their potential and make a positive contribution of society:
Young people want to be involved
• 52% of 16-24 year olds would like to do more to help the environment (women 16-24 years are the highest of all age groups at 64%)
• More than any other age group, 16-24 year olds didn’t know where to find out information about what they could do for conservation volunteering
Public willingness to take action
• 47% of people would like to do a bit more to help the environment
• 55% feel that they need more information on what they could do to be more environmentally friendly
Threats to UK native wild flora
• Only 2% of the meadows and grasslands that existed in the 1930s remain
• More than seven million acres have been lost
• 1 in 5 wild flowers in Britain is threatened with extinction
• The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has identified five plant species that are now ‘critically endangered’ in the UK
• 77 UK species are endangered
• 500 plant and animal species have become extinct in England within the last two centuries
• The highest rates of species loss has occurred since the 1960s
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