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1. Project Aims
Life on the Edge (LotE) is a multi-partner project that aims to restore viable populations of some of the UK’s rarest insects living along the South Devon coast between Berry Head and Wembury, including the last known colony of the Six-banded nomad bee. This bee faces imminent extinction unless action is taken. The project will also enable the recovery of over 20 other threatened invertebrates including the Long-horned bee, Short-necked oil beetle, and Moon spider.
Saving these species and giving them a safer long-term future means expanding and reconnecting the traditional coastal landscapes on which they depend, restoring wildflower-rich cliff tops and highway verges, carefully managed scrub mosaics, strategic hedgerow connections, and more wildlife-friendly parks, churchyards, school grounds and private gardens. The connected network of B-Lines will enable species to move freely through our countryside, expand their populations and recolonise areas from where they have been lost. 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.
It’s a mission that needs the support and engagement of the whole community, from landowners and farmers to parish councils and school children, providing opportunities for everyone to get involved and make a real difference for these extraordinary and highly vulnerable species. Focusing on the survival of these flagship species and the expansion of the habitats on which they depend, the programme will build collective pride in the unique South Devon coastal landscape as well as boosting its attraction for visitors and developing new opportunities for people living in nearby urban areas to get involved. Through this programme, those who help bring about the rescue of Britain’s rarest bee and other highly vulnerable insects will gain valuable new skills and local connections, along with a deep sense of achievement.
2. Project Partners
The project is led by the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), working in partnership with Buglife.
Main delivery partners:
• Buglife, national invertebrate charity
• Plantlife, experts in plant conservation.
• The National Trust ( includes South Devon Countryside and English Riviera portfolios)
• Doorstep arts – our cultural partner
• Torbay Coast and Countryside – landowners in Torbay
Other partners include:
• Other major landowners Flete Estate, Blackpool and Start Estate, and local farmers
• Natural England
• South West Coast Path
• Devon Wildlife Trust
• Devon Biodiversity Records Centre
• The Box, Plymouth
• Torbay on the Move
• An evaluation partner
• Dementia Friendly Parishes
• Devon Carers – through the Young Carers scheme
• Parish Councils in hotspots along the South Devon Coast
• University of Plymouth PGCE course
The LotE concept has been developing over the last three years, spurred on by the growing threat to the Six banded nomad bee. Now plans are being finalised to pull together all the information and evidence needed for a Round One application for funding to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), which we aim to submit in late August 2021. If this application is successful, we will secure funding for an 18-month Development Phase, starting in Spring 2022, which will give us the opportunity to test out our assumptions and make sure the main project is ready to run. In Autumn 2023 we will submit our updated and fully-detailed Round Two plans to NLHF and we hope then to secure their support for the main Delivery Phase, which will run from Spring 2024-Spring 2029.
This process means that we shape up our plans as best we can now; then we get the opportunity to fine-tune and test them out; and finally, we deliver them in full.
4. Project Components
In the Delivery Phase, our current expectations are that we will carry out the following main pieces of work:
• Undertake targeted practical conservation work to secure, enhance and recover populations of threatened invertebrates. And ensure that it is sustainable in the long term.
• Provide habitat management advice and financial support to land managers and farmers in the six key biodiversity hotspot locations to secure the right conditions for the flagship species and ensure these are sustained in the long term.
• Inspire, engage and support landowners, businesses, public bodies and householders across the South Devon coast and rural hinterland to create, restore and connect wildflower-rich habitat and build the B-Lines nature recovery network for South Devon.
• Create Seed donor sites across the South Devon Coastline which will provide locally sourced quality seed, to create habitat for the invertebrates we are targeting. This will be then used across the project. Specialist equipment will be made available to partners to harvest the seed
• Develop wildflower seed-bank sites that can provide locally-sourced wildflower seed for the restoration of sites.
• Develop Parish Pollinator Plans and provide Community Grants to support local initiatives.
• Organise a programme of training workshops for individual volunteers, landowners and community groups to build the skills of local people so that they can maintain the right conditions for our flagship species in the long term.
• Deliver a range of learning opportunities through visits, outreach and training. Develop a digital LotE toolkit together with online learning / engagement resources available to residents, schools and visitors.
• Deliver a programme of community events working with young people and other groups, using the arts to build awareness of and involvement in the conservation of the flagship species.
• Involve groups from urban communities, that rarely visit the countryside, in recreational and educational visits, in arts projects, and in surveying and practical conservation work.
• Create opportunities for older and isolated people in rural communities to get involved and improve their wellbeing and social connections.
• Work with local tourist providers to build awareness amongst visitors, ensure that the LotE project helps strengthen the brand of the South Devon AONB and attract new audiences to the area.
• Develop outreach activities and opportunities in Plymouth by working with The Box and other organisations; and Torbay through Torbay on the Move
• Create an apprentice scheme to delivery training, accommodation and a living wage to 5 trainees a year over the 5 year delivery phase, working with an accredited training provider. Accommodation will be provided free of charge to the project by our delivery partners National Trust and Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust
5. Project Resources
The total project cost is expected to be around £4.5m, with £2.2m coming from the NLHF. The balance will be made up of in-kind support (e.g. from volunteers or supporting organisations) and cash from grants and other funding sources.
The project will employ three full-time staff: A Project Officer, a Community Officer and a Conservation Officer; and two part-time staff: a Finance/Admin Officer (0.6) and a Volunteer and trainee officer (0.4)
Other key costs include specialist conservation advisors and surveyors, direct conservation and practical site works, the community grant scheme, resources for public events and activities, evaluation and impact assessment, interpretation (on-site and digital), the arts engagement programme and work with schools.
To find out more please contact Nicky Bailey firstname.lastname@example.org or Adam Davison email@example.com