A DEVON conservation charity has launched a new award to highlight the wonderful work local community groups are doing to encourage struggling nature and are inviting people to apply now.

The Wilder Communities Award is the idea of Devon Wildlife Trust. The inaugural award has been made recently to an East Devon community in Chardstock but the awards are open to everyone across Devon. From groups of allotment holders and workplace employees to residents’ associations, schools and care home communities. Staff at the conservation charity are keen to stress that the scheme is not a competition. Instead, applications will be reviewed by Devon Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Communities Team. Applications to the Wilder Community application process is free.

The Trust’s Wilder Communities Team are especially keen to hear from Devon communities who are working for nature in several ways, including:

- Creating space for nature: providing more food, water and homes for wildlife.

- Protecting the local environment: working to protect rivers and streams, to improve soil health, and reduce waste and pollution.

- Connecting local people with nature: bringing local communities together so that they can discover, learn and connect with wildlife.

Each Wilder Communities Award will be made for 12 months, but communities can look to renew year-on-year.

The schemes organisers hope that this will encourage communities to develop their wildlife plans over time, making them more ambitious and increasing their positive impact.

Katie Wilkinson is Devon Wildlife Trust Wilder Communities Team Lead and said: “We have been inspired by the hundreds of communities across Devon who are leading amazing projects to help wildlife where they live, learn, work, or socialise. So, we have launched a brand-new award to celebrate their efforts.

“There is so much to be hopeful for when we see so many people dedicating their time to help nature’s recovery. From holding environmental festivals to running community science projects or managing a local greenspace for wildlife, and campaigning to get swift nesting boxes installed in a town centre.

“When communities work together on a common cause they can achieve great things.

“Thinking globally and acting locally will help us build a sustainable future where nature and people can thrive.”

The first group to be designated as a Wilder Community is the East Devon village of Chardstock. Gill Keam, leader of the Chardstock Wilder Community said: “Our local community already does so much in support of the nature on our doorstep and in relation to connecting to it. So, when the opportunity to recognise and celebrate these connections was presented by the Devon Wildlife Trust’s new Wilder Communities Award, it felt like the ideal opportunity to bring our community even closer to nature.”

The Wilder Communities application process is open and can be completed online at: https://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/wilder-communities