29th Jan 2019

260 native trees have been planted at National Trust – Gibside this month, as a new fund has been launched by Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to help organisations to tackle local environmental issues.

The native trees at Gibside have replaced non-native species which is symbolic of the projects supported by the Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF).  The original fund was a ground-breaking collaboration between the Community Foundation, Shears Foundation and Greggs Foundation, as well as individual and corporate donors. Over the past 12 years, the fund has awarded over 260 grants totalling nearly £2m, and its legacy has also been to create this new fund - the only one in the region dedicated to tackling environmental issues  for the benefit of generations to come. It will enable the Community Foundation to award small environmental grants of up to £2,000 to community projects and charities, following the completion of an environmental fund that was established in 2006.

The Community Foundation is also set to publish a report that aims to share knowledge of environmental grant-making with other funders and donors who want to tackle climate change in their community.

Rob Williamson, Chief Executive at the Community Foundation, said:

“I’d like to thank the Greggs Foundation, Shears Foundation and our other partners for working with the Community Foundation over the past 12 years on this fantastic environmental initiative. Together the partnership has created 854 networks of active environmentalists doing good work on local environmental issues. It has supported 13,000 people to directly improve their local environment and it has helped over 101,000 people improve their environmental awareness.

“The planting of our memorial trees is a great way to celebrate the success of LEAF and we are delighted to leave a legacy fund at the Community Foundation, to support groups that can continue to address environmental issues in the North East.”

Groundwork North East, one of the original recipients of LEAF funding in 2006, is one of the charities that attended the tree planting event at Gibside. Karen Daglish, Partnership Manager for Groundwork’s Land of Oak & Iron project, said:

“Groundwork is a very grateful recipient of funding from the Local Environmental Action Fund at the Community Foundation. We’re celebrating what LEAF has achieved by helping to restore the beautiful Gibside into the woodland that it once was, by replacing non-native trees that have been taken down, with native species that will help make the Derwent valley a beautiful place to be.”

Michael Bell of the Patchwork Project

Other attendees included Alan Brown, of Friends of Red House Ramble, which described LEAF as the catalyst which helped “kickstart” their neighbourhood project, and Michael Bell of Patchwork who describes how LEAF has helped Patchwork renovate an area of wasteland into a much-loved education and recreational facility.

Over the past 12 years the LEAF fund has supported 38,000 people to take part in environmental education sessions;  created at least 15 hectares of new green infrastructure; enabled over 2,000 ​people to grow their own food; reduced waste by 64 tonnes,  cut 792 tonnes of CO2 emissions ​and saved at least 12,300m3 of mains water, and 1,228 mwH of energy; improved over 1,000 hectares of habitat ​and protected more than 130 native species and removed over seven hectares of non-native species .

The LEAF fund will support community projects and charities that address and/ or raise awareness of environmental issues in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. To make an application to LEAF Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply.

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