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)
Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer
It being Halloween this weekend and me representing the RSPB, I have been trying to think how I might liken the festival to nature for a seasonal theme in today’s article. But the more I think about it, the less similar the two seem. People have told me to write about ravens and crows, their blackness symbolising an (apparently) ethereal evil. I spent a morning searching and the internet is rife with web sites telling weird tales of ancient bird folklore. But the more I research, the greater my belief that birds are far more symbols of life and living than that of the spirit underworld.
I have always maintained that it is easy to get things out of perspective at night-time. Everyday tales told become full of mystery when the moon comes up and usual daytime noises become spooky bumps in the night. So it was a comforting sight to catch the grey-blue shadow of a barn owl blooming from the roadside fog as we made our way home from a rare trip in to the city to see Laura Marling play at Norwich Cathedral last night.
Some might say the owl looked ghoulish, appearing as it did in a blur of cold night air and smudgy silhouette. But for me, after the unearthly atmosphere of the cathedral and Laura Marling’s striking vocals, the owl was a welcome reminder of the actuality of the natural world. And those jet black rooks swirling in unhurried circles over frost hardened fields only serve to remind me fondly of the rookeries outside my childhood windows whilst a crows lolloping and swaggering seems whimsical rather than fiendish to me.
There is something rather excitingly story-book about Halloween however. It’s always interesting to see the world through someone else’s eyes for an evening, even if it is the glinting eyes of a witch or a goblin. But whilst you are preparing for the theatrics of the spirits and the underworld spare a thought for what we can celebrate not just on an evening a year, but 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. If you’ve ever seen a marsh harrier sky-dancing or caught a red deer parading through a fringe of woodland you’ll know what I mean. Let’s celebrate the sheer glory of the natural, living world too. I promise you, spending your October watching otters gamble past you at Strumpshaw, the robin’s on your garden fence, or curlews whistling on the coast will give you far more cause for making merry than a trick and treating mega bucket might do.
Eastern Daily Press Article on Saturday 29 October 2011