Worcestershire Record No. 19 November 2005 p. 30


Becky Lashley, Community Wildlife Officer

(Background to this project is in Worcestershire Record No. 18)

The first six months of the Vision Mapping project have flown past at a rapid pace. The request for this article provided an ideal opportunity to take stock of just how much has been achieved in that time, and also to acknowledge the many people who have contributed to such a successful start to this initiative. The project began with three quite clear aims in mind: to have better communication and engagement with people living within the project area, raising their awareness of biodiversity and how it relates to their lives; to encourage more people to take part in surveys and recording opportunities, and to feed that data into the BRC; and for the Biodiversity Partnership to form a more strategic vision for the future of biodiversity throughout the county.

Over the next twelve months my role is focused on the first and second of these aims. Raising awareness of biodiversity issues has been a constant, and ongoing, campaign of advertising and publicity, in local parish newsletters, newspapers, through leaflets and posters, coupled by encouraging people’s involvement in walks, talks and other events to help them discover and celebrate the wealth of wildlife to be found very often on their own doorsteps. In some cases raising awareness alone is enough to spark an interest in recording. Other people may need more encouragement and active demonstration before believing that the effort is worthwhile, not as complicated as they thought and that their contribution will be valued and taken seriously. By the time you read this article the Vision Mapping project and the Worcestershire Recorders Committee should have joined forces to start planning an assault of military-style precision on all these closet recorders hiding out there in the countryside. I would like to say a public (and published) thank you to the Committee whose enthusiasm for working alongside the Vision Mapping project has been very welcome and I hope the next twelve months are no different.

On the face of it our third aim of producing a strategic vision for the future of biodiversity does seem very ambitious! There are 16 organisations on the Biodiversity Partnership steering group and many more part of the wider partnership. I can think of 15 that for one reason or another have an interest in the nine Vision Mapping parishes, and that is not including purely voluntary interest groups such as the Recorders! There is clearly a lot of potential for unnecessary duplication of effort and resources, and also for mixed messages and crossed wires when communicating both with each other and members of the public. Producing a more strategic vision for biodiversity, along with better communication between Partners and better involvement from the people who live in the areas in which we work is, therefore, an important element of the project. At the end of next year, each of the nine parishes will be invited to produce a biodiversity vision map of their parish incorporating people’s thoughts, feelings and aspirations for the future of the natural environment in their local area. From this the Partnership can identify target areas for conservation work, which has the support of local people and where mutual benefit for different organisations working together can be gained.

One big success for the project so far that certainly deserves a mention has been the response received from the four schools in the area, at Hanbury, Feckenham, Stoke Prior and Himbleton. The latter have without doubt been the stars of the show, recently agreeing to become Worcestershire’s first Brown Hairstreak Champion School, linking up with Butterfly Conservations Local Champions project. They have recently undertaken to plant a blackthorn hedge in the school grounds and egg hunts are planned for February, to be hopefully followed by caterpillars and adults later in the year. Our campaign to encourage local recorders might therefore be a long one, but in 20 years time Worcestershire residents will not be able to move for Brown Hairstreak butterflies, and we shall know exactly where they all are!

The landowning community have not been forgotten either and are a hugely important part of what we are trying to achieve in raising awareness of biodiversity. An event is in the pipeline for early next year aimed at landowners within the project area to raise awareness of farmland biodiversity and to promote the opportunities available through the new Environmental Stewardship schemes. Representatives from several organisations will be attending including DEFRA, Butterfly Conservation, FWAG and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to promote the ways in which good management for biodiversity can benefit both the land and the pocket.

All in all, the Vision Mapping project is off to a flying start. Watch this space.

Children at Himbleton School - the first Brown Hairstreak Champion school - planting 16 blackthorns. This school is going on a Brown Hairstreak egg hunt later this winter, which should give a marked jump in numbers found!

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