Skills for the Future – Working with Nature secures Heritage Lottery Fund support

Monday 20th March 2017

Photo by Billy Clapham

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, along with Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts, have received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme for the Working with Nature project.

The project aims to develop knowledge and skills in both traditional and new nature conservation techniques with a new audience using ecosystem services to ensure that natural heritage is protected for all of our futures.

Working with Nature is a partnership between four Wildlife Trusts in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, and aims to train members of the community who wouldn’t typically engage with the Wildlife Trusts to become skilled in nature conservation techniques. Working with partners such as the YMCA, employment organisations and youth offending community organisations we will be working with groups who may not have had exposure to nature conservation before. The trainees will spend a year in a placement having real hands on experience of working in a conservation organisation, as well as getting more formal qualifications and leave with the skills that may lead to a career. The skills will focus on ‘how nature can provide for us’ (or ecosystem services) including:

  • Minimising flood risk
  • Supporting fitness and wellbeing
  • Looking after bees, butterflies and other wildlife

The State of Nature Report 2016 provided evidence showing our natural heritage needs support more than ever. More than 56% of species are in decline and at least one in ten of Red List species are at risk of becoming extinct. Further, climate change is resulting in weather events that are more extreme and more frequent with regular flooding and sometimes droughts.

We know to halt this decline and to ensure that the natural environment can mitigate the changes from climate change we need to have people from all parts of society skilled in natural heritage skills. The focus in nature conservation has shifted in recent years putting a value on nature and understanding the services that it provides. These ecosystem services include water regulation (flood, drinking water, recreational), carbon sequestration, health and wellbeing through access, food production (pollination) and recreation.

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “There is no quick fix to this problem. The heritage sector has been slow in widening the profile of its work force and as a consequence is on a long-term learning curve.

“We wanted to build on the legacy of our existing targeted skills funding – £47m to date – and make a further financial commitment of just over £10m. Why? Because we know the Skills for the Future programme can drive successful and lasting change. It’s simple yet highly effective: trainees paired with experts gain access to knowledge plus practical, paid, on-the-job experience.”