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A look back on Strategy for Nature funded community projects - one year on

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Tuesday 30 August 2022

It's been almost a year since a number of local environment projects were awarded funding through the Strategy for Nature. Since then, the projects have made fantastic contributions to the data we hold for our wildlife populations and to the on-island work to protect and conserve our natural environment.

The Fund was launched last year by Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services to offer financial support for environmental initiatives which aim to further the goals and objectives of the Strategy for Nature. The Fund is in recognition that the Strategy for Nature is not simply a government document; it is a framework that requires support and action from the whole community in order to achieve its goals and objectives. As such, the Fund was developed for individuals, educational facilities and charity organisations wishing to engage in projects that benefit the environment and local community.

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, commented:

"My Committee and I are delighted that the first year of the Fund has seen so much success. It's projects like these which really highlight Guernsey's love of nature. Each project has been an exciting contribution to our understanding of our environment and how we can protect, conserve and enhance it."

Julia Henney, Biodiversity Officer, commented:

"It's amazing to see the results of these community projects and what has been achieved in such a relatively short period of time. Considering their success over this last year, we are looking to roll out the 2022 Fund in the next week. We'll provide updates for when the application process will go live and we're already looking forward to seeing what projects will be proposed this year."

Some of the projects and their achievements are detailed below.

Information about the Strategy for Nature and the Fund can be found at  https://gov.gg/strategyfornature  

Grow Guernsey Natives

Funding contributed towards the launch of this project which aims to preserve and promote native and naturalised plants in Guernsey by growing native plant stock. The project works with Grow Ltd. to grow and sell the plants and with CLIP (Creative Learning in Prison) to construct frames to grow and house the thousands of plants. To date they have sold the first 2300 native plants. This has allowed the project to expand from an initial 7 species to over 30. Some, such as the Field Scabious, grew in just one spot locally and is now to be found in gardens throughout the island. Similarly, Bladder Campion, found only at Moulin Huet and on the hedge bank of a private garden in the Forest, is now certain to survive as we now have both stock plants for further propagation and many more out in the community. Another huge success is the propagating of Dwarf Pansy. This plant is a Guernsey special, found here and in the Scilly Isles. It used to be found all around the coast and is now clinging on in one area at Pleinmont. Its successful propagation ensures this charming plant will not be permanently lost to the island. Also successfully propagated is Guernsey's own Sea Lavender, a subspecies found only on the island.

Equipment for invertebrate identification

Through the Fund, the Entomology Section of La Société has benefitted from specialist photographic equipment allowing highly detailed images to be taken of Guernsey's smaller animals. This allows for accurate identification using identification keys and expert knowledge. So far they have identified many invertebrate species which had not previously been recorded in the Channel Islands, as well as species classed as endangered and rare in the UK.

Sour fig removal

Guernsey Conservation Volunteers received funding for 20 skips to be used for the removal of Sour Fig at Fort Le Marchant. The project started with a 'Big Fig Pull' on 5th February 2022. Since then, 12 more work parties have taken place so far this year, with more scheduled. More than 30 tonnes of Sour Fig has been removed through these efforts and more than 200 people have been involved at this site. It has been a fantastic community project involving corporate groups, school groups and scout groups. The final scheduled work parties should complete the clearance of Sour Fig from the Fort La Marchant headland.

Dolphin research

Funding was provided to student Zuzanna to help her come to and live in Guernsey for the duration of the survey period as well as conduct multiple boat and shore-based observations. The aim of the project is to recognise patterns in dolphin behaviour to identify areas of ecological importance. The project carried out a total of 24 boat surveys over 2 months and, thanks to the contribution of local volunteers, over 600 hours of research have been completed.

Bat upskilling course

Funding for this project allowed 2 ecologists from Jersey to run an upskilling course on Guernsey. This involves a series of open public lectures and the ecologists are also training 4 people in specialist bat handling skills. These skills can be used to apply for a license when required in research and bat conservation activities. During the course, several bat roosts have been discovered, including Guernsey's largest known roost of Grey long-eared bats, a species which is rare in the UK but widespread in the Channel Islands. A common pipistrelle roost was identified within Saumarez Park and, as a consequence, lighting is now turned off in the area to avoid negative impacts on that group.

Lihou Island garden project

The Lihou Charitable Trust received funding for their project to improve the biodiversity of the house garden. The aim of the project is to grow native pollinating plants to help support local insects and wildlife. It is hoped that visiting school groups can collect data on insect populations within the garden to monitor population trends. So far, most of the irrigation system has been installed and the Trust has worked with the botany section of La Société to understand the current floral diversity and how it can be improved. Students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh gold have helped to remove some New Zealand flax, which is an invasive plant species, and move the steps so the garden area is clear for planting in the spring.

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