The Conservation Foundation's

2016 Project Review

For more than thirty years we've been working to strengthen community action that brings people together to support and understand the natural world.

Many of the world's environmental problems are so complex and huge that individuals and communities can feel powerless to help, but The Conservation Foundation believes that every positive environmental action, however small, is worthwhile. Whether it's growing and monitoring a disease-resistant tree sapling, dropping off old tools to help a local group start a kitchen garden, or learning how to look after your churchyard’s trees, your time can make a big difference to where you live. All our projects strive to support these actions and help communities work together to take part in supporting their local environment.

A glance at 2017

The new year brings exciting opportunities for us to strengthen green community action across the UK.

We're always looking to develop opportunities and work to our strengths. For 2017 we're focusing on building upon our long experience of working with prisons.

This will include developing our successful Tools Shed programme, increasing the impact the workshops can have on rehabilitating offenders and expanding to a further four regions to benefit thousands more people each year. We're also supporting prison reform through Unlocking Nature, a new project to green HMP Wandsworth, one of the six Reform prisons and provide new skills and training for the men.

Board of Trustees

In 2017 we are also making changes to the way we are managed, including strengthening our governance structure. As part of this we are seeking people to help us achieve our goals and ensure we work to our full potential. We are looking for new Trustees with strategic vision and independent judgement to join our Board. For further information on the role please contact The Foundation’s Director, David Shreeve.

Tools Shed

Working with prisons across the UK, Tools Shed collects old and broken garden hand tools donated by the public. These tools are then repaired by prisoners and given free to local schools and community groups, teaching skills in prison workshops, reducing landfill waste, and saving community groups and schools money.

  • Each year over 120 schools & groups receive refurbished tools a saving of almost £130,000 and supporting 1500 people to take part in green projects, providing wood and metal-work training to prisoners, and diverting 2 tons of waste from landfill.

Tools Shed is expanding to a further four regions, whilst our work with prisons is broadening as part of the government's Prison Reforms. The new Unlocking Nature project will work with HMP Wandsworth to establish new green space and horticultural training for the men.

The Great British Elm Experiment

The unprecedented threat Britain's trees are under from pests and diseases shows the need to protect all species and identify resilient characteristics, whilst the importing of Ash Die Back through non-native tree stock has shown the need to look to our native population. The Great British Elm Experiment is taking this fight to Dutch elm disease and attempting to unlock the mystery of why some trees survived the disease which wiped out over 25 million elms in the UK.

  • 2,800 saplings, propagated from UK elms with resistant characteristics, are growing across the UK
  • This includes more than 600 schools
  • The project has also undertaken the first UK trials of a vaccine to protect the existing elm population

We Love Yew

Britain has the world's greatest collection of ancient and veteran yews in the world. They have long been a feature in our physical and cultural landscape. We're putting the yew tree heritage in a better condition and improving its management through workshops, guidance and support. The campaign is also rallying and supporting people to find out more about their yew heritage, and learn new skills in the process of protecting their yews by encouraging research, creative interpretation and caring for young trees.

  • 23 grants to support the health of yew's across the country
  • 800 saplings, propagated from ancient yews, are being planted to grow the next generation of ancient trees
  • Training seminars, guidance videos and publications are supporting good stewardship of our ancient yews

Churchyard Trees Conferences

Britain's more than 10,000 churchyards provide sanctuary to trees throughout the country, offering a valuable resource to the country as a whole. The often great age of churchyards, and the long term protection they offer, means many of these trees are particularly important, and others have the potential to become so. However the custodians of the churchyard have little support to manage and celebrate this magnificent resource. As a result, we've been working to help church wardens, arborists and community groups do more to utilise their churchyard trees and protect them for future generations.

  • Almost 200 people working in churchyards across the country attended conferences organised by the Foundation in Liverpool and London supporting them to manage their trees with the community.

Morus Londinium

Our natural heritage is a stepping stone in to Britain's history and provides invaluable habitats for a range of species. It should be valued as much as our built heritage and can show the value all our natural world can hold. The Morus Londinium project is unravelling the rich story of the capital's mulberry trees, delving into their importance to the history, culture and economy of London and revealing the mulberry's wider value and how it has shaped and is utilised by our society.

  • 600 mulberry trees surveyed
  • 100 "King James I" saplings are being distributed to London schools and groups
  • Free guided walks, foraging days and online articles are helping Londoner's find out about the significance of the capital's mulberries

Wessex Watermarks

For more than 20 years the Wessex Watermarks, administered by the Foundation, have been supporting schools, parish councils and community organisations to undertake environmental projects in the Wessex Water region. Over a thousand small grants have supported otter research, school wildlife ponds, owl sactuaries, woodland restoration and much more.

  • Over 1,000 small grants to schools, community groups and parish councils through the Watermark, GRID and Sustainable Watermark award schemes