£500,000 to protect Sunderland’s wildlife sites

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SUNDERLAND’S wildlife spots are to get some extra care, thanks to a new £500,000 project.

The city council has been working with Durham Wildlife Trust to design the WildGround training programme, which aims to fill a skills gap in natural-heritage grounds maintenance.

A grant from the Heritage Lottery Skills for the Future fund will provide training for the next three years in wildlife-friendly grounds maintenance for 18 trainees, as well as existing staff and managers.

Once trained, the workers will be able to protect some of the city’s most highly-populated wildlife areas.

The aim is to enhance the natural heritage of Wearside’s green spaces, and create a team of skilled labourers.

During the course of a 10-month period, trainees will develop portfolios resulting in the award of a Level Two Diploma in practical environmental conservation skills.

Director of Durham Wildlife Trust, James Cokhill, said the project could not start at a more favourable time.

“There is greater interest than ever in finding wildlife-friendly ways of managing urban green spaces,” he said.

“The wildlife-friendly approach delivers so much more, from benefits for bees to creating more attractive places for people to live and work.”

A report from the State of Nature report, presented by 25 conservation organisations in 2013, said that 60 per cent of 3,148 UK species having declined in the last 50 years.

Anyone who is interested can request an application pack from Julie Anderson j.anderson@durhamwt.co.uk.