Co-op's new partnership project to help local communities to protect and restore nature

Co-op has announced a new UK-wide initiative seeking to help local, mostly urban communities stand up for nature in their neighbourhoods.

By Heather Nicholls

Posted: Tuesday, 10th October 2023 3:30 pm

Co - op has launched project to restore nature accross the UK. (Photo Credit: Co-op).
Co - op has launched project to restore nature accross the UK. (Photo Credit: Co-op).
Local initiatives

Co-op has announced a new UK-wide initiative seeking to help local, mostly urban communities stand up for nature in their neighbourhoods. 

The initiative hopes to tackle the global climate and nature crises at a local level.

It is widely known that being close to nature and green spaces is good not only for our physical health but also for our mental wellbeing.

By announcing the Nature Neighbourhoods initiative on World Mental Health Day (10 October) it is hoped that this project will help people benefit from all the advantages nature can bring, in being right on their doorstep.

Rory Crawford, Project Manager for the Nature Neighbourhoods partnership, said, "Urban nature doesn't tend to be the focus of wildlife documentaries.

"But most of us live in urban areas, and they present the biggest opportunity for people to access and take action for nature on a day-to-day basis."

He added, "Efforts to improve access and tackle the biodiversity and climate crises have not tended to focus on neighbourhoods experiencing high levels of deprivation, but the local community organisations involved in this project are at the forefront of addressing this, through community gardens, improving parks, connecting young people to nature, community inclusion, creating new green spaces and supporting safe, active travel."

Three-quarters of people in the UK are worried about the state of nature, yet we are in the bottom 10% of countries globally for protecting it. 

In March 2023, the People's Plan for Nature set out recommendations to reverse the UK's shocking declines in nature, including calls for greater investment in ways to help communities take action to protect and renew nature at a neighbourhood level. The Nature Neighbourhoods project is a direct response to those calls. 

As part of the Nature Neighbourhoods project, 18 community organisations will receive support from three of the UK's largest nature charities – WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust. 

The project will help 18 local partners mobilise their communities and lead positive change for nature and people. (Photo: Co-op)

The organisations have come together as part of Save Our Wild Isles, an ongoing partnership to act for nature's recovery in the UK, and along with leading convenience retailer Co-op will support communities to create people-powered plans for nature in their local area. 

Each Nature Neighbourhood plan will be created by bringing local communities and decision makers together to ensure each plan centres on the community's priorities for tackling the nature and climate crises.

There will be a particular focus on working with urban communities, as while most people live in town and cities, there are often substantial barriers to accessing nature in urban environments, along with higher social and economic inequalities.

Nature Neighbourhoods has been funded by a £750,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, and £300,000 from Co-op. 

Thanks to National Lottery players, Co-op's strong reach – with a store in every postal area – and on-the-ground support from Co-op members and its Member Pioneers, the project will help 18 local partners mobilise their communities and lead positive change for nature and people, through training, financial aid and collaborating with local authorities. 

The national charities will work closely with local organisations such as community centres, social enterprises, and volunteer food growing collectives. These community organisations will be supported to bring together local residents, businesses and decision makers, and understand what they want and need to create a long-term plan for nature in their neighbourhoods. 

Nature Neighbourhoods will also be given access to Co-op's unique network of Member Pioneers, who bring people together to inspire and empower them to change the game. Member Pioneers work to tackle the big issues Co-op members and their communities care about, to connect and co-operate to create happy, healthy communities for everyone. 

Guy Stuart, Director of Technical, Agriculture and Sustainability at Co-op said: "Our members tell us how concerned they are around the effects of the climate crisis on people and the planet. Nature restoration and the halting of biodiversity-loss forms a central part of our approach to climate action, so our partnership with Nature Neighbourhoods is a landmark moment. 

"With a presence in every postal area in the country, we're perfectly positioned to support directly into communities, through Co-op members and colleagues and our Member Pioneers.

"Through the power of co-operation, we can drive lasting change and help vulnerable communities restore nature, making them a better place to work, play, live and learn." 

Co - op has supported other environmental projects in the area such as The Wild Mind Project in Twickenham.

Co-op Membership helps support Co-op's national charity partners and Local Community Fund causes. Become a Co-op member here:


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