An innovative project designed to help nature recover in Portsmouth is being extended to the Isle of Wight, thanks to funding from Southern Co-op.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust hope it can replicate the success of its ‘Wilder Portsmouth’ project – also supported by Southern Co-op and which has helped build a nature recovery network across the city – on the Isle of Wight.

The ‘Wilder Wight’ project, which is supported by the regional, independent co-operative, Southern Co-op, will enable Wilder Communities Project Officer, Kelly Wetherick, to work specifically for the Isle of Wight.

Kelly will support urban communities across the Island to build self-sustaining initiatives to create more space for wildlife. These could include greening community spaces or streets, improving areas for pollinators, bats, swifts and hedgehogs, or setting up groups to tackle problems such as litter and household pollution.

The project is initially focusing on Ventnor, Binstead, Freshwater, Pan and East Cowes.

Becky Fisher, Deputy Director of Engagement at the Trust, said: “Our relationship with Southern Co-op is longstanding and hugely important to us and we really are extremely grateful, not only for the funding they give us, but also their help and support.

“During the past 12 years they have supported and helped to fund several projects and activities, including the land purchase for Deacon Hill Nature Reserve near Winchester and Newchurch Moors Nature Reserve at Sandown.

“For the past two-and-a-half years they have worked with us on the introduction and rollout of our flagship Team Wilder programme – Wilder Portsmouth – and have taken great steps on their own estate to understand and enhance the biodiversity that lives there.

“It’s because of the huge success of Wilder Portsmouth that we can now look to introduce Wilder communities elsewhere, including on the Isle of Wight.”

Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op’s Director for Sustainability and Communications, said: “We have loved every minute of our involvement in Wilder Portsmouth as we have seen how small changes can join together to make a big difference in the city.

“A simple planter with pollinator friendly plants outside one of our stores and other businesses in a street, can help to create an incredible network for nature in one of the most densely populated cities outside of London.

“The people at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are incredibly passionate about restoring wildlife. We are incredibly lucky to have them on our doorstep and we are excited to see what else can be achieved on the Isle of Wight. A true measure of its success is seeing it adopted elsewhere in the Trust’s region but also by other Wildlife Trust’s across the country in their own regions.”

It is hoped the project will help to build a nature recovery network across the Island and engage with communities in a variety of ways, helping them to develop the skills and expertise needed to take the long-term lead in delivering and maintaining such a network – ensuring that local people play an essential role in caring for their local environment and wildlife.

To get involved, please email wilder@hiwwt.org.uk

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