Lottery earmarks £5m for BBC wildlife scheme

Thousands of wildlife safe havens are to be created around the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund has set aside £5m for a scheme backed by TV naturalist Bill Oddie to improve or create thousands of wildlife oases around the country. The BBC came up with the idea following a similar successful scheme involving domestic wildlife gardens on the Springwatch programme last year. A representative said: “We found there was a great interest in conservation and wildlife among our viewers, looked for another scheme and came up with this.” The BBC got in touch with the Big Lottery Fund, which has put up the money, and others such as Natural England have come aboard and set up a steering committee. The idea is to inspire local groups to create or improve local open spaces. They can apply for a lottery-funded Breathing Places grant to help finance the work but will have to liaise with landowners, local councils and other authorities on what they want to do. The BBC programme will take a lead in getting the message across and encourage the public, companies and other interested groups to take part. The initiative will cover the whole of the UK. BBC Learning and Interactive controller Liz Cleaver said: “This announcement is wonderful news. Hundreds of communities will be able to benefit from the money and it will make a real difference for wildlife in the UK.” The idea was originally that of Victorian landscape designer John Loudon who wanted to see a country where nobody was less than half a mile from green space. * Those interested should contact breathingplaces@bbc.co.uk.

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