A HERITAGE lottery funded project hopes to reverse the decline in British wildlife by encouraging communities to create their own urban nature reserves.

The Naturehood wildlife project, a collaboration between Earthwatch Europe and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, has received a grant for £99,200 to deliver the community scheme in Oxford and Swindon.

The trust, which is managing the project in Swindon, is aiming to create ‘Naturehoods’ in Penhill and Tadpole Garden Village, encourage neighbours to get together to create a network for hedgehogs, butterflies and common UK wildlife to flourish.

The project is inspired by a 2016 State of Nature Report which revealed more than half of all UK species have declined in number in less than 50 years.

Ben Williams, project manager of Naturehood for Swindon, told the Adver how the project will work.

"The report identified the need to respond to this both by directly delivering improvements which would help the situation for wildlife but also reversing the disconnect between people and wildlife," he said.

“There’s a wide perception in some parts of the community that nature happens in nature reserves.

"But probably about a third of green space in towns and cities comprises of private gardens.

“So what we’re looking at with this project is what the options are for unlocking the potential of that space to be a resource for wildlife.”

To spread the message the project wants to reach out to those who aren’t normally committed green environmentalists or nature lovers and show them the benefits it can have.

“It’s about giving people the awareness and understanding to take the first step, rather than getting someone who’s already active to do a little bit more," added Ben.

“We’re looking at taking environmental messages out of the deep green and into a much wider relevance to people."

Once signed up people will be encouraged to use less pesticides on gardens, build tunnels for hedgehogs, and create a wildlife-friendly a pond. It will start in 2019 and the first fully-funded phase will last 18 months.

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust manages 38 nature reserves across the county and helps local communities develop more sustainable ways of living. Earthwatch Europe is an international environmental organisation that supports research and programmes to tackle climate change and reverse the decline of wildlife.