Cumbria wildlife Trust

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is on a mission to protect Cumbria’s wildlife, creating wildlife havens and fostering environmental awareness. Steps to Sustainability provided an opportunity for them to become less dependent on external funding.


Wildflower Plant Nursery

Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s commitment involves restoring and connecting wild places, addressing the climate emergency by promoting sustainable practices for a resilient future and empowering individuals and communities to local action for wildlife.

The Steps to Sustainability opportunity came at a pivotal time for Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Amidst pandemic challenges, innovative ideas such as Green Burials, Experience Days, and a Plant Nursery were envisioned.

The project’s focus evolved from Green Burials to the Plant Nursery during the programme. The Profit Purpose matrix, introduced during facilitated sessions, played a crucial role in this strategic shift, identifying the nursery as the ‘star’ opportunity.

Programme Impact

We interviewed Helen Duxbury, Development Manager, about her experience with the Steps to Sustainability programme.

Helen spoke about how the programme emerged as a strategic initiative to navigate financial constraints and pandemic challenges. It provided a platform for experimentation with new ideas, leading to successful ventures like the seed bank and Experience Days/Tours. The programme facilitated adaptive responses to unforeseen challenges.

Tools used within the facilitated element of the programme, such as De Bono’s ‘Hats,’ the supported buddy visits and, as mentioned, the Profit Purpose Matrix, have become integral in shaping Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s approach to project development, creating a legacy of clarity and innovation.

Tangible outputs from the programme include the installation of a new polytunnel, significantly enhancing the capability to grow thousands of plants. The polytunnel has become a crucial asset, supplying internal and external projects alike, highlighting the success of the project.

Participation in the Steps to Sustainability program provided the luxury of dedicated time away from daily responsibilities, allowing for immersive learning and strategic planning.

The team’s stand-out moments from the programme were:

1. Strategic Pivot

One standout moment was the strategic pivot. Originally focusing on the concept of Green Burials, the organization, guided by insights from the programme, shifted its attention to the Plant Nursery. This decision ensured that they could work to the timescale for their benefit and have a great outcome.

2. Nursery's Impact on Grassland Restoration

The successful establishment and operation of the Plant Nursery emerged as a significant milestone. The nursery not only proved to be a profitable venture but also played a central role in achieving the objective of restoring grasslands, surpassing initial expectations.

3. Peer Learning and Networking

A standout moment was the organisation’s engagement with the network, particularly during a mentoring session on branding and naming for the nursery and interactions with the Wordsworth Grasmere team. These instances provided CWT with diverse insights that enriched the development process.

4. Adapting to Challenges and Learning Legacy

Recognising the need for proactive learning and sharing, CWT outlined plans for regular meetings dedicated to knowledge dissemination. This emphasis on continuous learning and improvement showcased a commitment to sustaining the positive impact of the programme beyond its duration.

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