Tourism and conservation working in partnership.

Small Grants Funding Round Up – May 2016

This year our fundraising businesses raised a fantastic £2,194 for the Small Grants Fund, bringing the total for the fund to £3,257 including remaining funds from the previous year. 

In April 2016 we opened the fund to applications from conservation projects in Cumbria. Projects were assessed against essential criteria and scored for conservation outcomes by a grant panel in May, and we were pleased to be able to award grants to the following 4 projects...


Coniston and Crake Catchment Partnership (CCCP) - £1,000

Coniston and Crake Catchment Partnership (CCCP) is a local community driven organisation which works to improve the health of freshwaters in the Coniston & Crake catchment area. It is a Heritage Lottery Funded project which will help to protect, monitor and restore the freshwater environment of Coniston Water, the River Crake and the wider catchment, through a programme of conservation, community engagement and education. A condition of Heritage Lottery Funding is that some match funding is secured, and this grant of £1,000 will help CCCP meet this requirement.

The Coniston and Crake catchment area is of great ecological value. It is home to indigenous Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, such as Arctic charr, Atlantic salmon and sea/brown trout. There are several Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation and County Wildlife Sites, and the River Crake flows into the Leven Estuary and Morecambe Bay RAMSAR site. However, the catchment is at risk.

The aim of ‘Conserving Coniston & Crake’ is to improve water quality, habitat and biodiversity through a number of conservation projects. These include improving in-river and riparian habitats, establishing and enhancing spawning gravels and habitats of juvenile salmonids, removing obstructions to migration, reducing phosphate inputs, restoring Coniston’s reedbeds and controlling freshwater invasive non-native species. Key habitat restoration work will include:

Restore, re-naturalise, and protect 30 kms of river banks
Improve salmonid spawning through increased access to clean spawning gravels
Increase Coniston Water’s reedbeds of Common reed, reduce sedimentation of Arctic charr spawning gravels and inhibit colonisation by New Zealand pygmy weed, an invasive plant species

The project will work closely with the local community, delivering workshops for schools, residents and businesses. Charlotte Hall of South Cumbria Rivers Trust says, “we are so grateful for this grant, and the funds raised by Visitor Giving are a great example of tourism businesses and conservation agencies working together to conserve these special habitats”.

Mirehouse Wildlife Playground (£460) and Mirehouse Residents Group Environmental Workshops (£800)


While both of these projects aim to deliver excellent environmental outcomes in their own right, the panel decided that the two projects complement each other well and by funding both we could have a greater impact on the conservation aims for the area.

Mirehouse Wildlife Playground

The Mirehouse estate in Whitehaven has long been affected by poor behaviours among the young, specifically littering, anti-social behaviour and a lack of interest in wildlife.  Over the past year the school has included specific elements within the curriculum to educate the pupils on the overall impact that human interaction has directly on wildlife.  The school wants to maintain this energy by developing an underused area of the school fields to promote and support wildlife.  This will involve installation of ‘bug runs’ as well as RSPB approved bird seed feeders and nest boxes to encourage local wildlife.

As well as supporting biodiversity, this project hopes to spark a change in culture that will be sustained in future generations, and children will lead by example with their actions rubbing off on elder siblings, parents, friends and families. The project was awarded £460 to purchase the materials and labour needed to build the wildlife playground.

Mirehouse Residents Group

Mirehouse Residents Group were awarded £800 to work with local primary schools to deliver workshops with fun and interesting activities, so  that schoolchildren and their families participate in, and recognize the beauty and potential of the local environment and wildlife.

The Mirehouse Residents Group volunteers already do lots of practical conservation in the area including planting wildflowers, installing bird nesting boxes, and undertaking litterpicks. The educational workshops will achieve long term positive impact by engaging with young people and helping and inspiring them to understand the roles they could undertake to achieve continuous improvements to their local environment.

North Cumbria Barn Owl Study Group (£576)


The aim of the North Cumbria Barn Owl Study Group is to enhance the breeding population of Barn Owls within the county of Cumbria through the provision of nest boxes. This part of the project is ongoing and has been very successful over the many years it has existed. Nest box provision has become even more important with the demise of farm steadings which are being developed at an alarming rate.

An equally important component of barn owl conservation is the monitoring of the population, which is only achievable by the marking of individual birds. This is done through the British Trust for Ornithology national ringing scheme. All birds are fitted with a uniquely numbered leg ring which identifies all individuals throughout the rest of their lives. Being a schedule 1 species, the collection of data must never compromise the wellbeing of the species and this work is carried out by fully trained and licensed individuals. The recapture/recovery of previously ringed individuals gives us the opportunity to calculate survival, mortality, longevity, movements and breeding success of individuals, and the data collected is invaluable to the long term future of this beautiful bird. 


A huge thank you to all of the businesses fundraising for the Small Grants Fund, and to all of the visitors that make a donation. You can find a list of fundraising business here. To fundraise in your business, read more here or get in touch!