National Lottery funding supports Garvagh community to tackle climate change

A Garvagh based project has received £150,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund, to bring people together to explore what nature can teach us about innovation and sustainable design.
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The ‘Forest Did It First’ project will use the grant to study the ecosystems which have naturally developed around Garvagh Forest and the Agivey River. Bringing the community together will help them to connect with nature, promote the value of the forest, river and land, and improve wellbeing.

Learning will be shown using creativity and the arts such as storytelling and film, with the aim of looking at ways to tackle climate change, reduce the loss of species and habitats in the local area, and to explore how we can live more sustainably.

This new project is being run through a partnership made up of The Hare’s Corner Cooperative, Big Telly Theatre Company, Rural Community Network and Wild Awake.

Zoe Seaton (Big Telly), Karin Eyben (Hare's Corner Co-op), Aidan Campbell (Rural Community Network). Credit Hare's Corner CooperativeZoe Seaton (Big Telly), Karin Eyben (Hare's Corner Co-op), Aidan Campbell (Rural Community Network). Credit Hare's Corner Cooperative
Zoe Seaton (Big Telly), Karin Eyben (Hare's Corner Co-op), Aidan Campbell (Rural Community Network). Credit Hare's Corner Cooperative

David Keys, Chair of the Hare’s Corner Cooperative, explained: “We are delighted to receive this National Lottery funding for this new and exciting project in Garvagh, and we would encourage local people to get involved over the next 18 months, to improve their area.

“With expertise from the four partners, the project will have the skills to improve local knowledge of ‘biomimicry’, which is where people can learn from and ‘mimic’ ecosystems that nature has already expertly developed. We look forward to working with schools and local communities to begin exploring how the learning can contribute to innovation, design and rethinking our relationships with the natural world.”

Richard Dawson from Wild Awake said:“We’re excited to start working with groups of all ages, to learn about the rivers and forests and use our shared knowledge to build more resilient and sustainable communities which are inspired by nature.”

Creativity and the arts will help people use the learning to build connections and understand the strengths and challenges facing the community and the local environment.

Zoe Seaton from Big Telly added: “We will be working closely with all ages in the community to use storytelling to create new experiences, inspire positive impact, and promote a more sustainable future.”

Key to the project will be an action research programme led by the Rural Community Network to develop a portrait of place which will describe, using available statistics and local stories, how well people feel they, and the rest of the natural world are doing and local priorities over the next decade.

Aidan Campbell from Rural Community Network said: “Involvement from the local community and sharing their ideas is key to the success of this project. This project will be about inspiring conversations and actions towards a more climate resilient community.”

The National Lottery Community Fund is committed to supporting communities to be more environmentally sustainable. This is a key mission in their new grant-making strategy, It Starts with Community, which sets out the vision to 2030.

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director of the National Lottery Community Fund, said:“We’re pleased to support the Forest did it First with this £150,000 grant, which has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.”