You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
Blogger: Sarah Green, Project Coordinator - Natura People Partnership Project
We all know nature reserves are important. They are important for the species they host, for the breath of fresh air they provide and the wonderful views. But what many people don’t realise is that nature reserves are also really good for the economy.
Huh, I hear you say? No, don’t turn away, this is important, I promise.
For instance, did you know that our Flagship Suffolk reserve, Minsmere, supported over 100 jobs in the local community in 2009? And that in the same year visitors spent £2.9 million in the local economy?* That’s quite a lot of cash. And all of it goes towards local people. It’s not just Minsmere that helps local economies either. All our reserves bring a financial benefit to their local area, whether it’s through people wanting to spy White Tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull or Red Kites in Galloway, or it’s the prospect of a nice day out in beautiful surroundings, possibly followed by tea and cake.
At Minsmere, we are improving the site to provide a better experience for visitors. This means more visitors which means more money spent in the local area. We want to talk to businesses. We want to explain to them what Minsmere can do for them. We want local businesses to have a connection to the site. We want to build transnational links between organisations and show what the power of tourism can do.
Under the auspices of the European funded Natura People project, we are developing an economic model to show the financial benefits of nature reserves and we’ll be producing case studies for each partner** in the project, to give in depth examples of how the model works. We’ll then take these findings and use them to help persuade the bureaucrats and politicians to invest in our green spaces, to value our natural environment and to protect it.
We will be discussing this work in more detail in November, at the third of our six monthly partner meetings. Is there anything you are particularly concerned about? Anything you want to know about the links between nature reserves, tourism and economics? Leave us a comment, send us an email and we’ll respond!
(You can also read our other blogs about Natura People here and here).
*See the RSPB’s Natural Foundations report, 2011 and Local Economies http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/naturalfoundations_tcm9-291148.pdf
**The partners in this Natura People project are: RSPB (UK), Province of West Flanders (Belgium), Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands), and Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, (The Netherlands)
The nature reserves benefiting from the Natura People project are:
RSPB Minsmere (UK)
Zwin (Provincie west-Vlaanderen, Belgium)
Waterdunen ( Provincie Zeeland, the Netherlands)
Natura People is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Crossborder Programme 2007-2013.
You may remember a blog post from a few weeks ago about a project called Natura People. Well, today I’d like to tell you a little more about what we’re doing. Last time I mentioned the partners and the different species you would find across the sites, this time I’m going to talk about how we’re spending the money.
The Natura People project is part financed by something called the European Regional Development Fund. The Fund allocates money to certain programmes, one of which is called the Interreg IV A 2 Seas Crossborder Programme, running 2007 to 2013.
That’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it? Well, along with having quite a wordy title, European money can be used for a wide range of things. For one, it allows us (the RSPB and the other project partners) to do lots of lovely site improvements we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
But, I hear you cry, what do you mean by this? Well, at Minsmere the Natura People project is part funding the new Family Discovery Zone (soon to be renamed, Ed). This is a special area for kids and parents, (and grandparents, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and uncles) to explore the reserve, learn about conservation and maybe even spot some exciting critters too!
In response to frequent requests from visitors we’re also improving the toilets and replacing Island Mere Hide to improve the views and give it a new, wheelchair and pram friendly entrance. We’ve already improved the car park, giving it a better surface, wider and more parking bays. All work will be completed by Spring 2012, so you can enjoy the most popular part of the birdwatching year!
And our partners are doing exciting things too. At Zwin in Belgium a new visitor centre and visitor trails are being built. At Lake Grevelingen in The Netherlands work is taking place to make the area intertidal and create sports and leisure facilities. At Waterdunen, also in the Netherlands, a whole new nature reserve is being created, with the aim of making it a popular holiday destination to help revive the local area and economy.
Why are we doing this? The short and simple answer is because we want to get people interested in nature. The more people experience the natural world, the more they value it and the more likely we are to succeed in our conversation efforts. How do we get folk interested in nature? By making it easy for people to visit reserves, by giving exciting experiences and providing decent facilities. We can’t guarantee you’ll see something rare, but we are pretty sure you’ll have a great day out.
So, next time you’re in the area how about stepping up for nature and visiting Minsmere, Waterdunen, Zwin or the Grevelingen?
Don’t forget that you can follow what’s happening at Minsmere by subscribing to the blog, here.
The partners in this Natura People project are: RSPB (UK), Province of West Flanders (Belgium), Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands), and Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, (The Netherlands)
The nature reserves benefiting from the Natura People project are:
Grevelingen (Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, the Netherlands)
I do, because Richard Mason, our warden at Sutton Fen taught me. And here he is taking quiet but giant steps for nature over on the reserve this month. Richard is a big supporter of our 'Steps for Nature' this month having started out as a residential volunteer himself.
Do we want more Richard Masons? Of course we do! Lets help plenty more budding conservationists Step Up for Nature and start helping to manage some of our incredible reserves through the residential volunteering scheme.
For greater detail about October’s Steps please scroll below the photo.
Do: Put up a nestbox October is traditionally all about Feeds the Birds Day but whilst you’re out there filling up your feeders why not go that extra Step and put up a nestbox. It will provide a cosy place for roosting and be ready for birds prospecting nesting places come spring time. Instructions on how to make a nestbox are here http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/making.aspx
Give: Marine appeal All around the coast of the UK, seabirds and other wonderful marine wildlife are in danger. But unlike on land, there are very few protected areas at sea. Our target is to raise £535,000 to help fund the urgent work needed to protect our wonderful sealife. Your donation will allow us to research seabird declines, as well as continue our work to protect the places where seabirds and marine wildlife live. We'll also be counting the number of donations we receive to show ministers how strongly people feel about the threats to our sealife. Together we can show government that they must step up and and protect our precious seas. Go to https://www.rspb.org.uk/applications/donations/single/index.aspx?dt=APLITH0318 to make a donation.
Volunteer: Residential Volunteering Residential volunteering is your chance to have a break, try something new or get some experience for your CV. There are over 40 different places to stay and hundreds of things to do. You can spend a week or more on a reserve, and you can do it alone or bring a friend. We'll provide you with accommodation, new skills and some great memories. For more information contact Annie Sadler on 01603697504
Campaign: Planning e-action The Prime Minister has made a personal intervention into the highly contentious debate on the future of England’s planning system. His comments are both timely and reassuring – but they are not enough for us to breathe a sigh of relief and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. In a letter to NGO’s Mr Cameron has said that any reforms will maintain current protection for the greenbelt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. However, Sites of Special Scientific Interest – those areas protected specifically for wildlife and the natural environment – are notably absent from his assurances. It is essential that the planning system support, not undermine, the UK Government’s ambitions to restore biodiversity. To this end we will continue to step up for nature by calling on the UK Government to maintain the existing protections afforded our finest wildlife sites – please step up with us by signing the e action at http://campaigning.rspb.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=13&ea.campaign.id=11417 you can also sign the National Trust’s planning campaign at https://www.planningforpeople.org.uk/
Thanks all and happy October.