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Bringing nature into Cornish towns

Bringing nature into Cornish towns

Bringing nature into Cornish towns

Bringing nature into Cornish towns

Bringing nature into Cornish towns

Researchers at the ESI have been working closely with Cornwall Council on the Green Infrastructure for Growth project and now the Making Space for Nature project (Green Infrastructure for Growth 2), both part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The projects aim to bring more wildlife to the ‘green deserts’ of small urban public open spaces at the same time as improving them for local communities. 

Green infrastructure such as trees and plants can bring benefits such as reduced heat in summer, reduced flooding, reduced air pollution and benefits wildlife as well as people’s mental and physical health.

So far 40 hectares of urban green space have been improved for both biodiversity and people – urban wildflower patches and pollinator friendly shrubs have been added to provide colour and interest for people, as well as increasing the resources available for bees and other pollinators. Existing habitats such as hedges and scattered trees have been improved to increase the size and connectivity of wooded habitats.

People have been catered for by adding benches, paths and natural features for people and especially children to engage with. Local communities have been involved from the start, in understanding the planned interventions and then invited to participate in spruce up days and bulb planting.

Working with the University has added a scientific robustness to the work we’ve undertaken across the seven Cornish towns. It’s been really useful to understand the impact of biodiversity enhancements on both people and wildlife and have the rigour of the University’s ecological expertise to guide us along the way.

Karen Hall, Project Officer, Cornwall Council.

The University of Exeter team have been closely involved in measuring the impacts of the interventions on both wildlife and on people.

Dr. Rosalind Shaw, the Impact Fellow who works on the project with Cornwall Council and a team of UoE academics led by Professor Juliet Osborne says, "It’s really exciting to see real world changes in the value of habitats for wildlife in areas and communities that have previously been somewhat overlooked and neglected.” The team have worked on public open spaces, closed churchyards and cemeteries and sports fields and are keen to inspire others to follow suit.

Case studies of some of the sites improved for wildlife and for people can be downloaded here -

The team plan to publish guidance on wildflower patches in urban areas coming soon. For more information on past and current projects please see and

‌Growing Communities Through Nature

‌Growing Communities Through Nature was designed to test models for community engagement in co-production and local innovation, following this up with co-designed and co-delivered maintenance, monitoring and evaluation activity. The research team investigated the impact of using three different institutional vehicles for bringing together communities around local activity.

The project worked in three Cornish towns - Launceston, Helston and Newquay - to run workshops co-designing public open spaces in collaboration with Cornwall Council’s Making Space for Nature team, the Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum, South Kerrier Alliance CIC and Incredible Edible Helston.

The workshops aimed to bring people together to share ideas about an existing space and its potential improvement, discuss new designs for the site and how to maintain the space, as well as monitoring and evaluating its impact on biodiversity and the local community.

This project explores how we can use nature-based options to reduce the impacts of climate change at a local level, by getting people involved with their local green spaces and encouraging community actions.

» Download the Growing Communities Through Nature Project Report (.pdf)

In addition to the benefits of climate change mitigation, the development of deeper working relationships between the University, partner organisations and the public provides a blueprint for further integration between higher education institutions and communities. Experience of using co-design, co-delivery and co-monitoring methods and tools provides a foundation from which the partners can develop future place-based activities to respond to a range of needs and challenges (such as community development and housing schemes). This approach could also be scaled-up to other Cornish towns and villages via larger collaborative funding applications.

News stories

People power key to new wildlife havens

Principal researchers
Grants and funding

The project is funded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) “Enhancing Place-Based Partnerships in Public Engagement” programme.