COMMUNITIES in the North-East are being given the opportunity to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by helping nature to flourish with a share of £5m of funding from the National Lottery.

The Nextdoor Nature initiative will be delivered by Durham Wildlife Trust to leave a natural legacy of the jubilee celebrations.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a £5m investment for The Wildlife Trusts, aimed at creating a huge matrix of community-led rewilding projects across the country, with Durham Wildlife Trust being given a £90,000 share.

It is part of The National Lottery’s £22m overall investment to mark the jubilee and improve the lives of people from disadvantaged areas across the UK.

Wearside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and County Durham will benefit from its own project, with Nextdoor Nature giving communities the skills, tools, and opportunities to take action for nature. This could include establishing wild habitats and green corridors in areas of economic and nature deprivation, rewilding school grounds, or naturalising highly urbanised or unused areas.

Durham Wildlife Trust will support children and teachers in schools across Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Darlington, encouraging them to work with the wider community such as faith groups or residents to make a difference for nature close to where they live.

 Zoe Hull, Head of Operations and Development at Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “Durham Wildlife Trust is really excited about the opportunity that the Nextdoor Nature project provides to support local communities and schools to take action for wildlife.

“There will be opportunities for teachers and community leaders to get training to look after their own green spaces and have access to specially developed resources to inspire the next generation of green champions.”

Durham Wildlife Trust has a wealth of experience in rewilding communities. For the past 15 months, the Healing Nature team has been working tirelessly to transform 20 local wildlife sites to improve conditions for wildlife, with local communities getting involved through a programme of events and activities.

Meanwhile, the Naturally Native project is working to save the water vole from extinction across the North-East through engaging and empowering local people to improve habitat and monitor water vole populations.

Simon Thurley, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We hope that many people will, for the first time, get hands on with nature creating a new generation of champions for our precious natural environment.”

Liz Bonnin, President of The Wildlife Trusts, added: “The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, but Nextdoor Nature is working to set that right, putting local communities at the heart of helping our wild places to recover, and making sure that no matter where we live, we can be part of this crucial endeavour.”

Anyone interested in finding out more can register here to receive information: wildlifetrusts.org/nextdoor-nature