Plymouth Natural Grid gets a kickstart

Ten young people have started an innovative six month work programme with Plymouth’s newest nature project.

The young people have joined the Plymouth Natural Grid, which launched this summer to help make nature more accessible to residents across the city, through the national Kickstarter programme.

The Kickstarter scheme is a nationwide placement programme for people between 18-24 years of age who are out of formal employment, education or training at risk of long term unemployment.

The new apprentices will be given training in a variety of outdoor and natural skills by our new urban rangers including tree planting, coppicing, woodland thinning, public engagement, dead hedging and invasive species management. They will work across 12 green areas, including Poole Farm.

They are the first of two intakes of Kickstarter apprentices embedded into the Plymouth Natural Grid to begin before March 2023.

Councillor Maddi Bridgeman, Cabinet member for the Environment and Street Scene, said: “It is brilliant to see these young people get stuck into nature in our city.

“The Plymouth Nature Grid project aligns well with the goals we have at Derriford Community Park and Poole Farm. Having an enthusiastic bunch of Kickstarters in muddy wellies getting dug into practical conservation activities around the park helps us achieve our vision!

“We hope these placements will foster a lifelong appreciation of Plymouth’s remarkable natural spaces and wildlife, whilst empowering young people with new skills and supporting movement into future employment.”

Lorna Logan, the programme coordinator for Real Ideas, added: “This project is a fantastic opportunity for young people to explore their interests, become inspired and uncover their capabilities.

“As well as building confidence and self-esteem, they will develop crucial soft skills needed in the 21st century such as communication, creative thinking, research and planning. Working outside in nature supports their physical and mental health at a time when it’s needed more than ever.”

As well as learning new skills, the Kickstarters will also play a role in achieving biodiversity net gain targets, a land management approach delivering measurable improvements through the creation or enhancements of natural habitats.

The Plymouth Natural Grid is part of an 18-month partnership project between the Council, National Trust and Real Ideas Organisation and is funded by a £1.2m grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. It is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Funding partnership with Natural England, the Environmental Agency and Forestry Commission.

In time, it will create a total of at least 22 new jobs, including five urban rangers, who will work and care for Council and National Trust sites across the city.

Nature conservation is at the forefront of the project, with improvements across 13 protected sites that focus on rewilding and nature restoration. There will also be a programme of community engagement to ensure that Plymouth’s more deprived urban areas are connected to their local nature reserve.

Find out more about the project at www.plymouth.gov.uk/NaturalGrid