Efforts to transform an area of city centre tarmac into a community garden have been among several Norwich green projects recognised tonight.

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The five winners of the Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards were revealed at a ceremony in the Abbey Conference Centre, Bracondale, Norwich, with a further seven conservation projects also receiving praise.

The Grapes Hill Community Garden scooped the top prize in the group award for its work to create green space in the heart of Norwich.

The Friends of Marlpit Wood was also highly commended in the same category for their efforts to clear the woodland of rubbish, refurbish the main path and improve the biodiversity of the site.

Another city project to be highly commended was the Bowthorpe Heritage Group, for its work to develop a wildlife-friendly green space.

Angel Road Infant School, Norwich, and North Norwich Children’s Centre, were winners of the education category, for their success in turning an area of neglected school playing field into a forest school area.

Other category winners included Anne Edwards for the individual prize, for her work as conservation leader in Hethersett and Wymondham, while Marya Parker was hailed for her “flair” in getting communities involved with conservation work as she picked up the special achievement award.

The University of East Anglia’s (UEA) conservation project, which involves improving biodiversity and managing the Norwich campus site, was highly commended in the site category.

But the UEA was topped by the Caistor St Edmund Raking Pit, south of Norwich, which took the award after being noted for its volunteers creating a “haven for wildlife” from a gravel pit abandoned for several years.

Paul Holley, Norwich City Council natural areas officer, said: “In judging the awards, we look for evidence of biodiversity enhancement, as well as the degree of community involvement and project long-term sustainability.

“Working together on conservation projects is a great way to make a difference for wildlife alongside benefits for human health and wellbeing. “There are many inspirational stories behind this year’s award winners, which show just how much can be achieved by enthusiastic groups and individuals keen to enhance their local environment.”

Other projects to be highly commended included: Reffley Wood Volunteer Group, King’s Lynn, in the group category; Robin Sidle and Andrew Gorton for their work with the Conservation Volunteers, previously BTCV, North Norfolk Workout Project in the individual category; and

Scarning V.C. Primary School in the education category.

For more on the awards, see the EDP and Norwich Evening News for forthcoming features on each winner.

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