(post by Charles Barber)
On the 24th of November the Biodiversity Partnership had its first meeting with Council staff (Lara Beattie, Tim Lowe and Aaron Henderson). One of the main aims of the discussion was to confirm the objectives for the Biodiversity Action Plan that WBC, working closely with the Biodiversity Partnership has committed to creating sometime in the autumn of 2015. Alison Daykin had previously brought together a very useful list of objectives, which the meeting was happy to accept, but it was also thought that there should also be a clear Education objective, which we should attempt to more clearly formulate at the next meeting. Below are the 5 objectives that have already been agreed.
- Enhancing local areas of high conservation potential – through effective management of Woking’s Sites of Nature Conservation Interest
- Integrated, living landscapes – increasing the resilience of the natural environment to climate change by reducing fragmentation and introducing and enhancing wildlife corridors. Development can sit alongside and be part of our living landscapes and man-made structures can provide important habitat niches for wildlife, principally for breeding and shelter. There is significant scope for man-made structures and future development to contribute to Woking’s biodiversity by providing nesting sites for birds and roosting sites for bats, and developers can be encouraged to consider how they can support our wildlife when submitting their plans.
- Tackling invasive species – these out-compete our native wildlife and make it difficult for our species to prosper and thrive. Removal of invasive species.
- Species and habitat specific action plans. Supporting species and habitat of international and national concern e.g. skylark, studded blue butterfly, otter, water vole, willow warbler, through specific action plans for a number of at risk species and rare habitats. Also a focus on some species in decline and of local concern e.g. Operation Owl for birds of prey, hedgehogs, stag beetle etc.
- Creating more and better places for the benefits of wildlife and people – by more wildlife friendly management of public spaces and supporting local residents and groups to be wildlife friendly in their own gardens and areas.
We also spoke about how best WBC might manage some of its current SNCIs (Sites of Nature Conservation Importance) that are at present somewhat neglected so that their biodiversity value is in decline. In the present financial climate WBC feels unable to fund a part-time post that would both liase with the Council to set up and implement management plans on these sites, and lead teams of volunteers to do some of the work that is required. However, it does seem open to the idea of the Partnership setting up its own Conservation Task force to work with the Council contractors Serco on particular habitat enhancement and creation projects within the SNCIs. It is also willing to fund the setting up and management of a web site for the Biodiversity Partnership, which could advertise for volunteers for both these projects and other conservation projects within the Borough.
With the support of Woking Borough Council, there is great potential for the Woking Biodiversity Partnership to play an effective role in conserving and enhancing biodiversity throughout the Borough. It can also play a vital role in encouraging people to get more involved in appreciating and looking after the nature on their doorstep. To do this though, it needs the participation of people from all parts of Woking society, schools, businesses, local residents associations etc so that together we can turn Woking into a beacon of biodiversity and conservation. The next meeting of the Partnership will discuss how best we can attract more participants, how best to clearly define the Education objective, what sort of constitution the partnership should have and which habitats and species we can best assist in enhancing and protecting and how we should try to do so. The meeting will take place on Monday the 19th of January at 7pm in the Council Offices (committee Room 1a), and anyone wishing to be involved in this process is welcome to attend.