A PROJECT that aims to transform the River Stour and green spaces along its banks has been awarded £249,700.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country has scooped the funding for an engagement and river restoration project by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The Love Your River Stour project will focus on Dudley and Wolverhampton to transform the River Stour and its banks into a beautiful and wildlife-rich source of pride for the communities of the Black Country.

It will also provide employment opportunities, community engagement and youth training.

Simon Atkinson, head of conservation at The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, said: “The River Stour and its tributaries are a vital part of the Black Country’s network of wildlife sites and the green spaces along them are where many thousands of people have access to local open space. "We’re really excited that Love Your River Stour has received this funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund as it will enable us to make these areas even better for a range of wildlife including otter, salmon and kingfisher, as well as bringing many more people into contact with their local wild spaces with all the benefits that this brings.”

As well as the conservation and river restoration elements of the project, the scheme will employ two project officers and two trainees, train 24 young people in nature conservation, deliver engagement sessions with vulnerable adults, host practical volunteer days, community engagement events and events to improve people’s health and well-being.

It will also see ‘River Ranger’ sessions laid on for students and ‘Wild Experience’ days for local businesses...and the project, which is due to start in September 2021 and run until March 2023, will evaluate the benefits the river brings to local communities and to the local economy.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country are one of 90 organisations across England to have collectively received grants worth £40 million from the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund to accelerate implementation of nature-based projects from ‘insect pathways’ to tree planting schemes.

The projects, which will support 2,500 jobs, will be delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.