A scheme offering financial support to help community groups and regional organisations looking to put more people in touch with nature has received dozens of applications.

After launching in late January, the West Midland Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Community Green Grants scheme has already seen more than 40 applications come in from across the region.

Successful bidders will be able to use the grants to improve green spaces and enhance their local environment, especially in deprived communities.

This can include a wide range of initiatives including planting trees, growing fruits and vegetables and turning unused land into pocket parks to increase local access. Project ideas already been submitted include tackling urban areas with an acute lack of green spaces to clearing overgrown suburban areas so that a diverse range of plants can return and thrive.

The fund is a rolling grant and the judging panel has been hard at work in recent weeks assessing the bids. The panel is especially keen to see applications from projects that include creative ways to increase biodiversity and promote behavioural change on accessing green spaces.

The panel is due to decide on the first round of submissions and announce the first batch of winners in early May.

Jacqueline Homan, head of environment at WMCA, said: “We’re delighted to see plenty of submissions coming in for our Community Green Grants project which means people are keen to enjoy the benefits of nature on their doorstep.

“I’m really looking forward to when we can start revealing the successful submissions and see how the projects improve our environment and increase the biodiversity of our region. Remember there is still time to get involved, so I would encourage as many groups as possible to take advantage of the cash available and get their funding applications in.”

The WMCA has set aside £725,000 for community groups, charities, community interest companies and environmental organisations that can show how their planned activities will have a positive impact on the environment. There are two levels of funding available: small grants of £3,000 - £25,000 and large grants of £25,000 - £100,000.

Priority will be given to projects in communities where there is green deprivation. To enable as many people as possible to benefit from the grants, the WMCA is working in partnership with regional charity Heart of England Community Foundation, which will be managing the online submission portal and supporting the application and appraisal process.

The application and fund factsheet can be found on the Heart of England Community Foundation website. For further information on WMCA Community Green Grants scheme, visit the wmca website.