Bristol’s Hidden Local Wildlife Sites to be Havens for People and Nature, thanks to National Lottery support

Bristol’s Hidden Local Wildlife Sites to be Havens for People and Nature, thanks to National Lottery support

A project to reveal some of Bristol’s hidden spaces for wildlife gets underway this week led by Avon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Bristol City Council, with initial support* for National funding from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
AWT and National Lottery Heritage Fund logos

The My Wild City project will link with people living in communities near to eight local wildlife sites in different parts of the city, giving them opportunities to learn more about these valuable spaces, and the skills and knowledge to play their part in protecting them for the future. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, HLF earmarked £457,500 of funding and has awarded a £41,500 development grant to enable the project plans to progress.

Local wildlife sites are often unnoticed wild places in towns and cities where nature thrives, from pockets of woodland to wildflower meadows. They play a crucial role in providing the space urban wildlife needs to survive, and are also valuable spaces for people to explore and unwind in. Avon Wildlife Trust will restore and improve eight of these spaces over four years, and help people in nearby communities get closer to their local wildlife.

Ian Barrett, Avon Wildlife Trust CEO said;
“My Wild City is an opportunity to inspire and involve people in the richness of nature on their doorsteps. These places are a vital part of Bristol’s green heritage and some of the best wildlife habitats we have in the city. Yet few people know them, visit them or feel a connection to them. This National Lottery support means we can work with local communities to care for them better and attract more wildlife to them, so they become places more people know and cherish.”

Matt Collis, Avon Wildlife Trust My Wild City Project Manager said;
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, whether you have no wildlife knowledge or are a nature buff. If you live near to any of these eight sites we can help you discover these places in a new way. We’ll help you spot the wildlife already there, from woodpeckers and bats, to voles and slow worms. And we’ll help you learn about looking after woodland, meadows or hedgerows throughout the seasons. Everyone is welcome to get involved.”
The four-year project will focus on eight separate local wildlife sites in different parts of the city; Dundry Slopes, Northern Slopes, Hengrove Mounds and Hawkfield Meadow, Lawrence Weston Moor, Saltmarsh Drive Open Space, Stockwood Open Space, Coombe Brook Valley, and Dundridge Woodland.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said:
“Sometimes hidden, unknown or unloved, wildlife sites in cities are vital connections to our natural heritage. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project is one step closer to reconnecting communities with the species, sights and sites on their doorsteps and building the skills and passion needed to protect them for future generations to enjoy. We look forward to seeing the plans develop.”

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for parks and green spaces said:
“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust on this project. It is a fantastic opportunity to restore the habitats, wildlife and natural heritage of these important sites, while providing many benefits to the communities that get involved. My Wild City will hopefully also provide a template for how to build sustainable local community involvement and engagement, which in the future could be useful for other natural green spaces in Bristol.”

The project builds on existing work by Avon Wildlife Trust highlighting the positive role nature plays in improving health and wellbeing. University of Bristol researchers will be evaluating the impact the My Wild City project has on deepening people’s connection with nature.

Professor Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor said: "The University of Bristol looks forward to working in partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust on the My Wild City project. We welcome the new opportunities it offers for our students and researchers to contribute to enhancing the environment of our city and the wellbeing of our communities."

Avon Wildlife Trust will begin to run guided walks and family days at each of the local wildlife sites, starting in 2018. If you live near to any of the sites and are interested in being involved in the project, contact

- ENDS –

Notes to Editors:

1. For more information
Naomi Fuller – Communications & Media Manager, Avon Wildlife Trust
T: 0117 917 7278 mobile 07458 091433

2. Local Wildlife Sites
Local Wildlife Sites are recognised across the UK in national planning policies, which set out requirements for protection through local policy and plans. They are identified and selected locally by partnerships of local authorities, nature conservation charities, statutory agencies, ecologists and local nature experts, using robust scientifically-determined criteria and detailed ecological surveys. There is little or no funding to support these sites – even those owned by local authorities – and many have fallen into neglect. Between 2009 and 2013 an estimated 11% were lost or damaged nationally (Secret Spaces – The Status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014, Why These Special Places Need Saving, The Wildlife Trusts, 2024)

3. Avon Wildlife Trust
Avon Wildlife Trust is the largest local charity working to protect wildlife and inspire people in the West of England area – with the support of 17,500 members, 1,500 volunteers and corporate support. We care for 36 nature reserves - from ancient bluebell woods to Iron Age forts, nationally important wetlands, and wildflower meadows. We run award-winning educational and community programmes. And we work with landowners in the wider countryside, to reduce the decline in wildlife by creating a Living Landscape.  

4. About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Grant* applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported

5. Bristol City Council
Bristol City Council is responsible for managing over 50 Local Wildlife Sites across the city. Many of these are publicly accessible natural green spaces that are important refuges for wildlife, and places where people can experience and enjoy contact with the natural world. The Council works in partnership with a number of organisations and community groups, seeking to maintain and improve many of these sites for wildlife and as important spaces for local communities.

6. University of Bristol 
Community engagement at the University of Bristol is an important part of student life, connecting our University to the city. Our students can get involved through our Professional and Community Engagement opportunities (PACE), part of a new educational approach called Bristol Futures. This equips our students with the skills, attributes, knowledge and experiences they need to thrive in our rapidly changing multicultural world.
See for further information.