Cumbernauld Living Landscape has received over £1.3m from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for its Creating Natural Connections initiative.
A transformational grant of £1,375,000 will deliver significant improvements to Cumbernauld’s environment over the next four years and create a long-term change in the way people connect with nature.
Nearly 3000 primary pupils will be given opportunities to explore nature, while groups including people at risk of poor mental health and young people at risk of disengaging from education will be given specialist support to improve their well-being.
And community organisations across the town will be helped to deliver environmental improvements in their local neighbourhood.
A total area of urban woodland equivalent to 230 football pitches (230 hectares) will be sustainably managed, and more than 12,000 native trees will be planted.
Three peat bogs surrounded by houses will be restored, and six new community rain gardens will help reduce the impacts of flooding. Across the network better managed urban wildflower meadows will boost pollinators and increase local biodiversity.
There will also be 3km of new paths linking existing routes, and 5km of existing routes will be upgraded.
The Cumbernauld Living Landscape is led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, North Lanarkshire Council, The Conservation Volunteers, Sanctuary Scotland and the James Hutton Institute
Ian Mackenzie, Living Landscape’s programme manager for Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “This work represents the most significant investment in the town’s natural environment since it was created in the 1950s. We’re delighted to have received support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to make it happen.
“We have a long-term plan to put nature and people at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future. This is one of Scotland’s greenest towns but to truly connect people with wildlife we have work to do to improve local woodlands and other green spaces, both in terms of their value for wildlife and the potential for people to enjoy them.
“Involving people who don’t normally get the chance to benefit from nature is really exciting. We can help them feel that they really have a stake in the future of their community, and also unlock skills and confidence that they will have for life.”
Riona McMorrow, acting head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland, added: “Connecting the community of Cumbernauld with the abundant green spaces in and around the town has been happening on a small scale with great success.
“We’re delighted that, thanks to the people who play The National Lottery, we can support Cumbernauld Living Landscape as they build upon these achievements.”
Dr Kathryn Colley, social scientist at The James Hutton Institute, said: “We’ll be doing social research including working with young people and community groups to help them make films documenting what the project means to them and getting Cumbernauld residents involved as ‘community researchers’.”
Pat Cahill, director of Sanctuary Scotland, added: “This investment will further improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and enable more residents to enjoy it.
“We look forward to supporting Creating Natural Connections in neighbourhoods across the town, providing advice and support where required to maximise people’s involvement.”