South West Wildlife Trusts secures Heritage Lottery Fund support

Wildlife Trusts in Somerset, Devon, Dorset, and Wiltshire have received initial support¹ for a £829,200 bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme² for their Wild Futures project. The project aims to:

  1.  Diversify the conservation workforce by providing opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly young people and those in transitional phases of their lives and careers to develop the skills and knowledge required to pursue a career in nature conservation.
  2. Meet the identified skills gaps in the conservation of Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire with key skills and knowledge vital for the future of the natural heritage.

Development funding of £9,600 has also been awarded to help Wildlife Trusts in Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire work together to progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Wild Futures will provide new career opportunities for people from a wide range of backgrounds, especially young people and those at a transitional phase in their lives and careers. Working in partnership the four Wildlife Trusts will deliver a total of 48 training placements over a 3-year period, 12 in each County consisting of a combination of work -based training and accredited training in specific skills. The training programme will equip participants with a range of skills and knowledge that will enable them to pursue a career in nature conservation and to make a positive contribution to the conservation of the natural heritage. Trainees will receive training in: Wildlife Survey, Monitoring and Management Planning; Volunteer and Community Engagement; Practical Conservation Skills.

Diversifying the appeal of the natural heritage to people of all backgrounds is vital for the future of natural heritage conservation. Through the Wild Futures project we will demonstrate that there is a demand for a non-academic route into nature conservation and that this route can provide high quality skilled employees who are committed to conserving the natural heritage. By providing the opportunity for 48 people to take this route we will take a significant step towards the creation of a natural heritage workforce drawn from all parts of society. Training placements will be promoted to people from disadvantaged and excluded backgrounds many of whom have volunteered to support natural heritage conservation.

Director of Operations for Dorset Wildlife Trust, Brian Bleese said: “The Heritage Lottery funded Wild Futures project will make a huge contribution to the skills and knowledge available in the nature conservation workforce in Dorset.  It will also provide opportunities for dedicated individuals to take their first steps towards an interesting and rewarding career.”

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of HLF, said: “Nurturing skills – of all types – continues to be a hugely important part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s portfolio of work. Skills for the Future is one of our most successful and over-subscribed programmes with fierce competition to secure funding. The 39 projects that have won through reflect the wide range of training and opportunities on offer in the heritage industry. We’re delighted that through this significant investment 876 new placements will be created right across the UK and hope that this additional funding will help encourage growth and build resilience within the sector.”