The presentations from Chalford and Bisley highlighted two successful and divergent approaches for tackling biodiversity. While both have undertaken various activities/events (such as a Biodiversity walk in Chalford or farm visits in Bisley), it is the different strategic approaches that were particularly insightful for the participants.
A lynchpin in Chalford has been the methodical development of their habitat map. The map has been developed by resident ecologists using national and local data and shows graphically the existing as well as potential sites for biodiversity. It was clear that the map will be a critical tool not only for guiding their future work but also and for persuading others. Their expertise is increasingly recognized by their parish council who now consult them more regularly on biodiversity related matters, but they recognise the importance of developing a working relationship with the parish.
Bisley’s work has been guided by (1) progressive policies (such as the chemical ban on parish-owned and managed land, a Dark Skies policy too) introduced by the Parish Council and (2) the planning framework as articulated in their neighbourhood development plan. One early step was to commission Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to write a report on Bisley’s options for enhancing biodiversity. GWT’s Ecological Appraisal of the Parish was followed by a resident’s Zoom consultation followed by two printed household surveys. The report has become a basis for BisCAN’s current work collaborating with the community, enhancing wildlife corridors with practical participatory projects such as planting hedgerows, raising awareness about connectivity in allotments gardens and churchyards, and approaching farmers, local landowners, and neighbouring parishes, to enhance collaboration.
The participants noted the strengths of both approaches and discussed: (a) whether/how mapping could be undertaken in other parishes more simply (without the benefit of volunteer ecologists); and (b) the importance of working with existing local groups and the parish /town councils. Funding was flagged as an issue, and one participant suggested that parish councils should have funding to support community actions on such issues, and that winning such support could be a good way forward.
Report generously drafted by CAN participant Sachi Hatakenaka with names, and technical details, added by Grace O’Donovan ChalCAN and Lesley Greene BisCAN