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Cumbernauld Living Landscape has received a transformational grant of £1,375,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for its new Creating Natural Connections initiative.

This funding will deliver significant improvements to Cumbernauld’s environment over the next four years, and create a long-term change in the way the town’s people connect with nature.

Celebrating the new funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund © Warren Media

Thanks to support from players of the National Lottery nearly 3,000 primary school pupils will be given opportunities to explore nature. Groups including people at risk of poor mental health and young people at risk of disengaging from education will be given specialist support to improve their well-being, and community organisations across the town will be helped to deliver environmental improvements in their local neighbourhood.

A total area of urban woodland equivalent to 230 football pitches (230 hectares) will be sustainably managed, and more than 12,000 native trees will be planted. Three peat bogs surrounded by houses will be restored, and six new community rain gardens will help reduce the impacts of flooding. Across the network better managed urban wildflower meadows will boost pollinators and increase local biodiversity.

People will be able to explore and enjoy the nature on their doorstep thanks to 3 km of new paths linking existing routes, and 5 km of existing routes will be upgraded to more accessible for everyone.

Ian Mackenzie, Living Landscapes Programme Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “This work represents the most significant investment in the town’s natural environment since it was created in the 1950’s. We’re delighted to have received support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to make it happen.

“We have a long-term plan to put nature and people at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future. This is one of Scotland’s greenest towns but to truly connect people with wildlife we have work to do to improve local woodlands and other green spaces, both in terms of their value for wildlife and the potential for people to enjoy them.

“Involving people who don’t normally get the chance to benefit from nature is really exciting. We can help them feel that they really have a stake in the future of their community, and also unlock new skills and confidence that they will have for life.”

Local people at a celebration event marking the new funding. ©Warren Media
Local people at a celebration event marking the new funding. ©Warren Media

Riona McMorrow, Acting Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland said: “Connecting the community of Cumbernauld with the abundant green spaces in and around the town has been happening on a small scale with great success over the last few years.

“We’re delighted that, thanks to the people who play The National Lottery, we can support Cumbernauld Living Landscape as they build upon these achievements.  Even more people will now get the opportunity to connect with nature and realise the benefits it brings to their health and wellbeing. Their contribution will improve the natural heritage and show that it can exist and thrive alongside an urban development.”

Councillor Michael McPake, Convener of the Environment and Transportation Committee, North Lanarkshire Council said: “This is excellent news for Cumbernauld and its residents, creating new opportunities for improving the local greenspace and, importantly, for more people to enjoy the benefits of nature in their community.”

“Our Greenspace team will be working with partners at Cumbernauld Living Landscape on this exciting project to help make Cumbernauld an even greener place to live and visit.”

Dr Kathryn Colley, social scientist at The James Hutton Institute said:  “We are delighted to be a part of this project working to improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and help local people get involved with the nature on their doorstep.  Our role is to work with the other partners to assess the difference that the project makes to the people of Cumbernauld.

“We’ll be doing this through a variety of social research methods including working with young people and community groups to help them make films documenting what the project means to them and getting Cumbernauld residents involved as ‘community researchers’.”

Pat Cahill, Director of Sanctuary Scotland said: “As a supporter of the Scottish Wildlife Trust in Cumbernauld, Sanctuary staff have seen first-hand the positive impact the town’s greenspace can have on people’s lives. This investment will further improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and enable more residents to enjoy it. We look forward to supporting Creating Natural Connections in neighbourhoods across the town, providing advice and support where required to maximise people’s involvement.

“Creating Natural Connections will also complement some of Sanctuary’s investment in Cumbernauld. Much of the planned activity will take place a short walk from the high quality new homes being built to replace the town’s high-rise blocks.”

Local people at a celebration event marking the new funding. ©WarrenMedia
Local people at a celebration event marking the new funding. ©Warren Media

Dominic Hall, Operations Manager, TCV Scotland said: “TCV is delighted to be a partner in the Cumbernauld Living Landscape. The partnership’s vision to put nature and people at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future is closely aligned to TCV’s mission to connect people and greenspaces and deliver lasting outcomes for both.

“We are delighted to be working with the other partners to engage the people of Cumbernauld and be leading work to make the health, wellbeing and community benefits of Cumbernauld’s great natural resources available to all its residents.”

Created as a new town in the 1950s Cumbernauld is one of Scotland’s greenest towns. 50% of the town is designated as greenspace, which includes woodland, meadows and parks.

Creating Natural Connections will build on the successful work of Cumbernauld Living Landscape since its creation in 2011, particularly through its Engaging Communities to Enhance Urban Greenspace project, which began in 2015 and recently came to a close. Creating Natural Connections is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust alongside North Lanarkshire Council, The Conservation Volunteers, Sanctuary Scotland and the James Hutton Institute.

Creating Natural Connections is supported by players of the National Lottery through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme has also received generous support from Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Ltd and North Lanarkshire Council.


Rory Syme