Nature Improvement Area

Park Hall Bluebells, Chris WishartThe Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area aims to achieve long-term environmental gains for the wildlife and people of Birmingham & the Black Country by delivering targeted biodiversity projects at a landscape scale. If you have a project that will help nature, wildlife and biodiversity on your site, then please Click Here to The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country to find out more information.

Bids will be considered from a few hundred pounds up to £10,000, but larger amounts may be available if the project will have great significance to nature and biodiversity.

Funding is available for community groups to enable them to make improvements for wildlife on their site. Further information, along with the application details, are available from

Rolling a Bale byt Reg JamesSupport is now available to make real improvements to young woodlands in local open spaces. If you know of a site that would benefit from being thinned, planted up with new trees and sown with woodland flowers now is the time to get in touch.


 Rolling Hay Bale by Reg James

NIA Project Stories

Project 047 – Penk Rise De-culverting

The River Penk first flows into daylight within Penk Rise open space Tettenhall Wood, Wolverhampton. Like most urban rivers in the Black Country the actual source is contained within the surface water network and this is slightly upstream.  As the Penk flows through Penk Rise it is in open channel for about 120 metres before entering a culvert for about 100 metres. It then flows through a fairly modified open channel for 150 metres before flowing into Staffordshire.

The aim of the project was to break out the culvert and improve the open channel downstream of the culvert. Doing this will connect the two open channels and will provide better habitat than exists now. This will be for the benefit of in-channel species such as invertebrate populations and marginal vegetation.  The deculverting project is being used as the focus for a campaign to raise awareness of urban diffuse pollution, particularly miss-connections and the impact it has on water quality.

The delivery of the project began in Year 2 of the NIA as depicted below and was completed in May of Year 3:

Project 028 – Cotteridge Park Enhancements

Cotteridge Park is a park located in the south of Birmingham which is mostly formal and frequently dominated by amenity grassland. Within the park there are two areas of woodland that The Friends of Cotteridge Park applied to the NIA board to improve for both biodiversity and amenity: The first is an area of secondary semi-mature Sycamore woodland occupying a steep slope on the boundary of the park; whilst the other is a younger area of planted (predominantly) native broad-leaved species which is about 15 years old (known as Millennium Wood).

During Quarter 4 of Year 2 crown-lifting and thinning of the Millennium Wood was carried out, whilst 30% of the young and semi-mature Sycamore in the secondary woodland was removed. Both areas were under-planted with native trees, plug plants and seeds provided through Growing Local Flora.

Volunteers have been actively involved in most areas of the project including weekly visits from Years 5&6 at Cotteridge School, volunteering sessions with students from Kings Norton Boys’ School and volunteering sessions with Friends of Cotteridge Park volunteers.  The volunteers have gained skills and confidence as a result of this project and more work to improve biodiversity is taking place in the park as a result.  The project has also resulted in more people becoming volunteers and existing volunteers giving more time and undertaking more complex tasks.

Project 041 – Milking Bank Plantations Project

The purpose of the Milking Bank Woodlands Nature Improvement Area project was to undertake woodland management which opens up the canopy of selected areas of the plantations to improve their ecological value.

At the beginning of 2014, 3.8 hectares of the plantation was thinned and sown with field-layer plant species including primroses, foxglove and red campion. Where the existing mix of species was poor, additional trees were planted to diversify these areas.

By improving the structure of the woodland the remaining trees will be able to grow stronger and the newly added species will add diversity.  This diversification will enable many more species of birds and insects to live in the woodlands and will make the site significantly more visually attractive to site users.

On two days in March 2014, four classes from Milking Bank Primary School visited the Milking Bank Plantations. The children visited part of the site to learn about how the improvements made due to the NIA Project will benefit both people and wildlife. Whilst on site children and adults took part in a mini-beast hunt whilst learning some interesting facts about a variety of species. They also planted primroses, scattered foxglove and red campion seeds before making a woodland crown or natural bookmark that they were able to take back to school. After speaking to the Head Teacher after the first week, all pupils (and staff) that attended the sessions thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had been heard telling other classes what they had been up to.

061 – Sedgley Beacon

Over the years, the semi-natural area of green and open space at Sedgley Beacon has suffered from a lack of appropriate/traditional site management. However as well as the re-introduction of traditional grassland management techniques on the site, this project aims to improve the value of the calcareous grassland and clear encroaching non‐grassland vegetation in order to increase the overall wildlife value of the site.

Contractors began work on site in October 2013 and will complete the work over two years, with the second half due to finish in Winter 2014/15.  The main body of work completed so far was clearance of scrub, treatment of stumps and disposal of the arisings on site.

In July 2014 the remaining scrub clearance and disposal of arisings took place to allow for the area to be strewn with green hay to create a new species-rich meadow. There has also been hedgerow gapping and planting and some coppicing. Once completed the restoration of this important area of degraded grassland habitat will help to restore key species populations and make them more resilient. It will also increase the presence of important diverse plant communities which support a whole range of wildlife from butterflies to insects, mammals and birds – many of these species are specialists, unable to live anywhere else and some are nationally threatened.

Initially re-introduced by the NIA, the longer term grassland management of the site will be achieved through annual cutting by community volunteer task groups and grazing. This will help in the transfer of skills in traditional management techniques and help to re-engage people with this particular part of the site.

With aims to restore and improve 28,000m2 of unimproved grassland this project will increase the number of sites with wildlife value across the NIA. Meanwhile, as well as getting volunteers involved in grassland management, this project will ensure that local people have access to a higher quality green space which offers chances for first-hand experience with nature.