‘Life on The Edge’ is awarded £2.24m by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore habitats for rare invertebrates along the South Devon coast

Tuesday 16th January 2024

South Devon National Landscape has received a £2,246,965 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting project ‘Life on the Edge’ focussed along the South Devon coast. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the multi partner project will deliver a programme to help restore thriving populations of some of the UK’s rarest insects living along the coast between Berry Head in Torbay and Wembury near Plymouth.

The award to the partnership led by the South Devon National Landscape together with main partner Buglife, as well as the National Trust, Doorstep Arts and South West Coast Path Association will engage farmers, communities, schools, gardeners and businesses to make more space for nature along the coast, targeting the needs of the rarest species with measures that also help more common wildlife.

The South Devon coast is home to one of the most diverse range of plant and invertebrate species in the UK, thanks to its warm climate, unique geology and long history of low-intensity farming. But many of these species are now in serious trouble, with some facing extinction. These vulnerable and special species are holding on along a thin strip of coast, squeezed by the sea on one side and often intensive agriculture on the other.

Activities will include the delivery of a range of volunteering, citizen science opportunities and training placements.  This will be alongside a series of public events including family celebrations, art activities, walks, talks and workshops. The Programme will support farmers and landowners to implement sustainable management practices to accommodate the target species and will assist parishes in developing ‘Pollinator Plans’ to encourage wildlife friendly greenspaces, highway verges and gardens.

It will run a targeted programme of activities for people from the neighbouring urban areas of Torbay and Plymouth, particularly young people and older isolated people. These activities will help people reconnect with the natural world and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors and active in nature. By restoring habitat at a landscape scale ‘Life on the Edge’ will provide a sustainable home for nationally rare insects such as the Six-banded nomad bee (Nomada sexfaciata), Long-horned bee (Eucera longicornis) and Short-necked oil beetle (Meloe brevicollis). The result will be a coastline and its connected hinterland that is buzzing with wildlife, packed with wildflowers and a treat for the eye for residents and visitors alike.

Commenting on the award Roger English Manager for the South Devon National Landscape team said “ We are thrilled to receive this support from National Lottery players.  We are looking forward to working with our partners and the local community to make a real difference for these threatened species along the coast of the South Devon National Landscape and beyond.”

Stuart McLeod, Director of England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Talking with National Lottery players, we know that nature and the environment are incredibly important to them. That’s why we’re delighted to support Life on the Edge to enable them to protect and enhance the wildlife and biodiversity across South Devon. At the Heritage Fund, we’re proud to play a role in ensuring our natural heritage is safeguarded for generations to come and help nature’s recovery. We also like the projects we fund to give people a chance to connect with the nature and wildlife on their doorsteps. This project is a great example of fulfilling these aims.”

Andrew Whitehouse Head of Operations at Buglife said: “We are so excited to be able to share this good news.  Life on the Edge will make a huge difference to South Devon’s wildlife: restoring nature at scale, and enabling some of our most threatened invertebrates to recover and thrive. Local communities and landowners are central to the project; we will connect people with the nature on their doorstep and empower them to support nature’s recovery.

Life on the Edge is also supported by the Devon Environment Foundation and Milkywire.