Readers of the Worcestershire Record will be only too familiar with the idea of a Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and the fact that the Worcestershire BAP was launched in April 1999.
Now that the Worcestershire BAP has been produced, the effort turns to trying to ensure that the BAP is implemented - targets are met, actions are carried out. This is no simple task. The Worcestershire BAP contains 843 actions, each of which has combinations of lead and partner deliverers. One of the most urgent jobs I have had, as Biodiversity Action Plan Manager, is to try to ensure that all those with actions in the plan at least know what their actions are, i.e. what is expected of them. This process has been started with the larger organisations - Environment Agency, the County Council, and local authorities in particular. However, it is not as simple as just depositing a list of actions with an organisation, and then leaving them to get on with it - well, we COULD take this approach, but I feel that if we are really going to fulfil the aspirations of the BAP process, we should be working closely with these organisations on an on-going basis, building up working relationships.
A frequent concern for those with actions to implement is reporting back. In this age of performance indicators, best value, targets etc., the last thing most managers want to see is an extra pile of report forms to fill in from the Biodiversity People. To avoid this, I am trying as far as possible to incorporate reporting back on BAP actions within existing reporting systems.
Paralleling the work with organisations there is the project-based approach to creating or restoring habitats. Much of this work is already being carried out by English Nature, the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and local government organisations etc. We will however need to keep a close eye on all this activity to ensure that we are on line to hit the BAP targets - perhaps even passing them, and again we need adequate reporting systems for this.
Having information on the abundance and location of BAP habitats and species is crucial to the whole process. The major common theme that comes out of every meeting I have with managers or officers in relation to implementing the BAP, is requests for information on where things are, closely followed by a demand for straightforward guidance on what they should be doing about it. We, i.e. the conservation movement, have a clear duty here to remove all possible obstacles to the preservation of our wildlife - and this of course applies equally to wildlife which doesn’t happen to be included in the Worcestershire BAP. The message that I am hearing is that managers, and others with influence, are perfectly willing to try to ‘do the right thing’ for wildlife, but in order to do this they need to know firstly where things are, and secondly, what it is they are supposed to be doing about them.
All this underlines the importance of the role of county surveyors in providing crucial information on what wildlife we have where, coupled hopefully, eventually, with a Biological Records System that makes this information easily accessible to all.
For further information on Worcestershire BAP implementation please contact Alex Preston, based in Environmental Services at County Hall in Worcester, email email@example.com
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