What is the project about?
Coalface to Wildspace, Midlands is an exciting, new project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project is focusing around neighbourhoods across Walsall from 2022 to the end of 2025.
There has previously been very little focus on reptile and amphibian conservation in this region, so this project will raise awareness through public engagement, improve habitat through community interventions, and bring attention to local natural and geological heritage.
What are the aims?
We are working with local communities to improve habitats for reptiles, amphibians, and wider wildlife through the creation of Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors. These corridors are being created by working with people to build homes for wildlife in urban areas, with the aim of providing green stepping stones for nature between the larger green spaces across Walsall.
We also aim to educate community members about their local heritage, relating the history and geology of Walsall to the species that live here now as well as to the species that used to live here in the past.
What are we doing?
We are running Wildlife Gardening Workshops with community members across Walsall. These workshops involve learning more about our native amphibians and reptiles, and how we can support them within our own gardens and greenspaces. During these workshops we also work together to create habitat improvements for wildlife, as part of our Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors that improve connectivity and habitat across Walsall for amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife.
Layers of Time
We have created an exciting 3D short film called Frogglebox, that explores local geological, natural, and social history and we are holding film screenings at local schools and community venues. The film focuses on the natural history and heritage present under the surface of the current visible landscape of Walsall and its connection to the wildlife that lives here now, particularly reptiles and amphibians. You can watch Frogglebox online here!
This summer we hosted a week of creative Froglife Brick Workshops in partnership with a professional brick artist from Bricks McGee. Community members created individual builds and pictures out of LEGO® bricks to reflect the geological time periods shown within the film Frogglebox. Thank you to everyone who joined us for these sessions! We now have some amazing and unique designs that we will be combining into larger models.
These models will be judged by a panel of experts, including paleontologists, and will go on tour to different venues before finding permanent homes within the community. Keep an eye on this webpage and our social media for updates!
The final phase of the Coalface to Wildspace project involves the creation of wildlife themed Speaking Sculptures. So far, we have completed the first half of our community art workshops, in partnership with professional artists from Juneau Projects. During these sessions, community members worked together to design how they would like the sculptures to look and create clay creatures that will be used when casting the final sculpture. During the upcoming workshops in Spring, we will work together to paint the sculptures and create inspiring, nature focused soundscapes that will be accessed via a QR code.
These sculptures will then be installed on 6 of our 8 key sites across Walsall, as well as 2 additional community sites, to give the project a lasting legacy for people to enjoy into the future. Community celebration festivals will be held at each site towards the end of the project, to unveil the sculptures.
You can see our key sites marked in red and our additional community sites in blue, as well as our Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridor habitat interventions marked by snakes or ponds here:
Our Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors so far!
We have worked with a range of community groups across Walsall to create habitat enhancements and link up Walsall’s greenspaces. These groups have included allotments, schools, nurseries, and more.
Together, we have dug five ponds in Walsall at Winterely Lane allotments, Ryecroft Community Hub, Old Church C of E Primary School, Slater Lane Allotments and Bloxwich Primary Academy. We have also created four mini ponds and two bog gardens at local community sites. Other interventions include a series of toad abodes popping up around Walsall, a new sensory garden and several hibernacula!
You can see all of these interventions on the map above.
Why not contribute to your local Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridor by becoming a Garden Guardian?
There are lots of easy ways you can improve your own garden, balcony or community greenspace for wildlife! Why not plant some herbs on your windowsill to feed the bees, or create a mini pond in your garden to provide a haven for freshwater invertebrates? You can read more about easy habitat interventions in the Froglife Learning Zone or if you want to build a wildlife pond our “Just Add Water” booklet will teach you how.
Please add your habitat interventions onto our Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors map by completing this form: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J73GRJ6
How you can get involved
There are several ways you can get involved and help us to transform Walsall from Coalface to Wildspace. Why not become a garden guardian or attend one of our workshops or film screenings?
The details of our upcoming sessions are listed on the Froglife events page.
- New events coming soon
Community Art Workshops led by professional artists from Juneau Projects:
- Our Autumn workshops are now complete, but we will be returning in the spring for the final workshops to decorate our sculptures and create the soundscapes.
To be kept in the loop about upcoming project news and events, please don’t hesitate to contact our Project Manager Christina at Christina.Nijjar@froglife.org or subscribe to our mailing list.