Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project enabled us to find out more about the natural heritage of the Blackdown Hills, to raise awareness of the area’s natural heritage and to help local communities to build the skills and the confidence to set up their own nature projects.

Start Date: 09/11/2017 End Date: 18/11/2017

Our project team, managed by James Maben , took an innovative approach, supporting community participation and conservation action through training, research and communication. The project ran for three years, from January 2015.

The project involved:

  • Community nature projects
  • Dormouse surveying
  • Ecology trainee programme
  • Events exploring local wildlife
  • Wildlife discovery days
  • Working with schools, including, primary school wildlife activities, art project, A-level visits

In each of the years we took on three voluntary trainees, led by project officer Conrad Barrowclough. Our trainees helped survey the area’s habitats and wildlife and took part in specialist ecology training to gain skills for employment in the ecology and conservation sector.

Throughout the project we ran events exploring the wildlife of the Blackdown Hills. These ranged from family activities like river-dipping and bat-box making to more specialist sessions where people could learn how to identify plants, trees, birds and mammals. Our wildlife discovery days grew in popularity each year, bringing together conservation organisations and specialists, and providing an opportunity for members of the public to have a hands-on experience with nature.

We worked with local primary schools, helping pupils to discover, learn about and care for local wildlife. We also provided funding, training and support to local community groups to help them set up and run their own nature projects, enabling them to care for the wildlife in their area and to inspire others to get outside and enjoy nature .

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures final evaluation report [pdf 2MB]

Funders and supporters

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional funding from Devon County Council Locality Budgets, Somerset County Health and Wellbeing Budget, South Somerset District Council Community Grant, South West Water, Wessex Water, Wessex Watermark and Viscount Amory’s Charitable Trust.

The project was supported by:


The project ran from 2015 to 2017.


More information

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures website



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