IF you had £7,000 to help the environment near you, what would you do?

Plant some wild orchids in a meadow? Dig a village pond? Or create a new path through your local woodland?

An Oxfordshire charity is now offering thousands of pounds to people or groups who come up with the best ideas to protect and enhance the natural world in their area.

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The Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment said it particularly wanted to tap into people's renewed love of nature which had been sparked by lockdown closing many of people's favourite attractions.

Announcing its offer, the group said: "Our countryside and wildlife are more important than ever.

"During the lockdown many people re-connected with nature, hearing bird song, breathing fresh air, marvelling at the peace around them, the blue sky above them and simply enjoying being outside.

"The countryside close to our homes (and the wonderful weather) undoubtedly contributed to our physical and mental well-being.

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"If you have an idea for a project to improve access to green spaces or increase the wildlife in a wild place in Oxfordshire, then funding may be available from The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment."

Some recent projects the trust has funded include:

• The restoration of rare alkaline fen habitat at the Hinksey Heights Nature Reserve near Oxford where plants no longer common in our countryside are now thriving.

• The development of three new circular walks in the Lower Windrush valley in West Oxfordshire.

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These three routes were selected because of their ease of access, beautiful scenery, proximity to local businesses and nature reserves and links with longer distance footpaths like the Windrush Path and Thames Path National Trail.

The trust said the new routes were 'suitable for everyone in the community' as all the stiles have now been replaced by kissing gates.

The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE) describes itself as 'the county’s key independent environmental funder'.

The group largely gets its money from rubbish company Grundon, which has to pay a tax for dumping waste into landfill.

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This tax goes into the Landfill Communities Fund, which groups such as the trust can then bid for a share of for works which are designed to off-set some of the environment hard done by landfill.

The trust also gets some income from other sources, and allocates grants to 'support a better future for the local environment'.

Since 2011 the trust has raised more than £3 million and given grants to more than 320 projects across Oxfordshire and Berkshire, making a significant positive difference to communities and nature.

If you have a project that you think we could fund, go to trustforoxfordshire.org.uk or call 01865 407003 to talk through your project idea.

Funding applications, which need to be from not-for-profit organisations, are considered four times a year and most grants are up to a maximum of £7,000. The next application deadlines are September 9 and January 25.