Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded over £1 million to the Dunsmore Living Landscape scheme, a Trust-led project which is working to restore important wildlife habitats in the areas lying between east Coventry, Rugby and north Leamington and reconnect people with these special places.

We would like to thank National Lottery players, our key partners and stakeholders, local landowners and communities for their enthusiastic support throughout the development of the scheme.

Gina Rowe, Living Landscapes Manager at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust says:

The partnership is absolutely thrilled with the success of our HLF funding application. This is a tremendous boost for wildlife and people in this special area of ancient woodlands. This grant will bring new training opportunities to local people and enable us to deliver a wide range of activities involving many people who cannot access local sites at present.

At the heart of the Dunsmore area lie 20 woodlands covering 618 hectares.

They represent more than 10% of the whole of Warwickshire’s ancient woodland. These woodlands are a treasure trove of biodiversity, home to many species of insect, butterfly, plants and birds.

HLF funding will bring a new landscape-scale level of action for wildlife in the area and will allow us to restore 300 hectares of ancient woodland, 20km of historic hedgerows including old parish boundaries, 10 ponds and 20 hectares of flower rich grassland over the next four years. This will create habitat for iconic wildlife such as the hazel dormouse and Purple Emperor butterfly.

This area of countryside also tells a fascinating story of prehistoric Heidelberg man and the rise and fall of empires.

From the discovery of a half a million year old hand axe in a quarry near Bubbenhall, to Roman barracks at Baginton, Saxon settlements at Wappenbury and Norman fortifications at Brinklow, a visitor to the area is able to discover much of the nation’s history.

Grand landscape designs at Coombe Abbey and Stoneleigh Abbey have also left their mark, not least in the nationally important collections of veteran and ancient trees.

The Dunsmore scheme aims to restore this ancient landscape to one rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

By working with local partners, landowners and communities we will improve habitats, help to conserve historical sites and improve access, interpretation and general information about the area. We will also provide learning and training opportunities and run a range of events and activities, designed to reconnect people with their local living landscape, green spaces and heritage sites.

The scheme will create a sense of ownership and understanding that will ensure the continuity of the Dunsmore Living Landscape.