What is Wild Towns?
The ERDF Wild Towns Project is led by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust but it is a project like no other. Not only is it working to make not one, but seven towns in Gloucestershire a little bit wilder, but it’s also supported by a brilliant team of partners, including Severn Trent Water, Severn Rivers Trust and Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG). The project is generously funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and a number of other funders.
ERDF Wild Towns is working to create, enhance and connect more biodiverse spaces within seven towns in Gloucestershire, they are: Cirencester, Tetbury, Stonehouse, Cinderford, Stroud, Fairford and Moreton in Marsh. We are creating wildflower meadows, managing woodland, creating wetlands, planting native trees and shrubs, removing barriers for fish migration and creating refuges and habitats for key species such as bats, owls, water voles, reptiles, fish, butterflies and other invertebrates.
To date we have restored streams, sown meadows, managed woodlands, planted trees and native wildflowers, installed bat and barn owl boxes, de-paved an area to return it to meadow and a native copse, installed accessibility paths, managed habitats for reptiles, created conservation grazing areas and planted new hedges.
Keeping the project on track in the face of a global pandemic
The wide ambition of the ERDF Wild Towns project has been a challenge in many ways to deliver, but with all of the disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused, we’ve had another reason to celebrate this complexity. The fact that we have so many partners delivering different projects and contractors across the county has meant that, while many other GWT projects had to be paused due to the pandemic, ours was able to continue.
In line with advice from the government, CIEEM, Natural England and ERDF, many of our contractors and partners were still able to deliver outdoor work, as long as strict procedures were in place to protect them and the public. We were also able to work on creating downloadable online maps of green spaces for the towns involved remotely during lockdown.
Additionally, lockdown saw the installation of a beautiful carved bench overlooking the new wildflower meadow at City Bank in Cirencester, completed in May by Andy O’Neill.