Wrexham Industrial Estate Living Landscape: Biodiversity Means Business Project Evaluation
Living Landscapes is a Wildlife Trusts national programme, and Biodiversity Means Business was a 3-year project on Wrexham Industrial Estate, which received funding through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government via the Sustainable Management Scheme.
Wrexham Industrial Estate (WIE) is one of the largest in Europe. Working with businesses, landholders, community groups and planners the long-term aim of the WIE Living Landscape scheme was to successfully demonstrate the integration of the needs of economic prosperity, environmental conservation and social wellbeing (i.e., the three pillars of sustainability) in a genuinely mutually beneficial way. It aimed to improve the biodiversity of the WIE and its vicinity whilst also making it a more attractive area for businesses, their employees and the surrounding communities.
The aim of the project was progressed by positive on-the-ground actions to improve biodiversity and local amenity as well as working to develop an overarching spatial development strategy for the WIE.
The Trust saw this project to be a stage in their long-term strategy to continue, and expand these activities into the future, working with businesses to enable the WIE to become an exemplar site for truly sustainable development in Wales and beyond.
The methodology was structured [and was altered to adapt to the disruptions and changing timelines due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and restrictions] to include this Mid-Term Evaluation during the Autumn of 2020, and a Final Evaluation in late 2021. Surveys, interviews, case studies and workshops were all utilised alongside analysis of project records to evaluate the progress of the project towards its goals.
Key evaluation topics were developed in collaboration with key stakeholders examining delivery of outputs & outcomes, efficiency of project systems, impact with regards to socio-economic benefits and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, learning from the project, and the long-term legacy.
To address the key topics we evaluated a number of elements including the benefits for local people, businesses, and nature; unexpected outcomes; specific things that impacted delivery; project governance; lessons learnt; and which audiences were successfully engaged.
Despite the Covid-19 disruptions, the project had delivered all but one of it’s outputs by the mid-term review and had exceeded these and delivered virtually all outcomes by the project’s close.
However, the impressive aspect of this project is that it has laid the foundation, through long term management agreements, nurtured relationships, and strategic collaboration with the planning authorities, to ensure that the impact and legacy of this three-year piece of work can be maintained in the long term.