No money to save the environment

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No money to save the environment

Posted: 17/04/2008 16:34:28

Just as world leaders and all our political parties are finally facing up to global warning, funding to the groups delivering on green issues on the ground is drying up. That is why the Stroud Valleys Project, a registered charity which has been doing just that with public and private funding and the help of local volunteers for almost 20 years, is this week launching an appeal for £75,000 in order to stay alive.

Government rhetoric is saying one thing. But from the department in charge of the environment to its agencies to the national lottery, it seems the money is no longer there to save and nurture green spaces, wildlife or a sustainable countryside. Recent work in the Severn Vale neatly illustrates the contradictions between government words and action. SVP is working with 18 farmers there in a ground-breaking new project which is helping farmers, schools, parish councils and communities in twelve parishes to protect wildlife and its habitats. It is a direct contribution to the Environment Department policy to subsidise farmers who create wildlife-rich areas on their land.

Nature works slowly so it needs to be a ten-year project, but after four years the funding from environment agency, Natural England, has come to an end with no indication as to whether or not the grant fund will continue. Defra (Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), which has seen its own cash-flow drained by floods, bird flu and a Euro farm subsidy mix-up, has cut Natural England's funding so that it is having to make brutal cuts to its own staff - and to funding for environmental groups.

Just a couple of years ago there was a funding gap for six months while relevant Agencies were rethought, merged and their staffs reorganised; the funding rules keep changing; and then there is the question of whether National Lottery and other funds are being redirected towards the 2012 Olympics. And meanwhile all funders insist that they only want to fund the projects, not the core staff who are indispensable to any well-run charity. Funders also don't want to fund existing projects, no matter how successful, preferring to fund new and 'innovative' ones.

Yet Stroud Valleys Project has been consistently delivering successful projects which regularly over-achieve on their targets, getting more and more people involved in saving the environment and turning more and more of the Stroud district environmentally-friendly.

With the help of Stroud Valleys Project:
• Volunteers are turning an area of land equivalent to 4 football pitches in size into refuges for wildlife
• nearly 1000 adults and children learnt about and helped the local environment during 2006 and 2007
• local people planted or restored 4 miles of hedgerow during 2006 and 2007
• local people planted over 1,500 trees during 2006 and 2007
• volunteers have discovered rare habitats and places where rare species are living that are unknown to conservationists
• 18 farmers in the Severn Vale are creating special wildlife places on their land as part of our ground breaking new project which is helping farmers, schools, parish councils and communities in 12 parishes to protect wildlife
• In 1999, Clare Gerbrands set up the Stroud Farmers Market
• the community radio station Cam FM was set up, which still broadcasting programmes every October to residents of Cam, Dursley and the surrounding parishes getting them involved in their local community and with helping the environment
• In 1997, we helped a group of local people to set up Energy 21, a charity which is now a national one campaigning for better use of renewable energy to combat climate change
• Students with learning disabilities, people recovering from mental health problems and visually impaired people have all been able to take an active part in learning about, and helping, the environment thanks to special schemes organised by Stroud Valleys Project.

Stroud Valleys Project wants to continue and expand on its successful work of 20 years, begun in a time when environmental concerns were low on most people's agenda. But the organisation is now facing the paradox of closure at the very time when calls to save the environment are at their loudest. If the money isn't raised, then the organisation will have to close at the end of the summer at the very time when its experience can help local people make a real difference.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Caroline Aistrop
Telephone: 01453 753358 or 07894-663436
Fax: 01453 755641
Email: caistrop@stroudvalleysproject.org
Website: www.StroudValleysProject.org


Permalink: http://www.thesite.co.uk/viewnewsstory.asp?newsid=2305

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