Blogger: Sarah Green, Project Coordinator - Natura People Partnership Project

You may remember a blog post from a few weeks ago about a project called Natura People.  Well, today I’d like to tell you a little more about what we’re doing.  Last time I mentioned the partners and the different species you would find across the sites, this time I’m going to talk about how we’re spending the money.

The Natura People project is part financed by something called the European Regional Development Fund.  The Fund allocates money to certain programmes, one of which is called the Interreg IV A 2 Seas Crossborder Programme, running 2007 to 2013.

That’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it?  Well, along with having quite a wordy title, European money can be used for a wide range of things.  For one, it allows us (the RSPB and the other project partners) to do lots of lovely site improvements we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

But, I hear you cry, what do you mean by this?  Well, at Minsmere the Natura People project is part funding the new Family Discovery Zone (soon to be renamed, Ed).  This is a special area for kids and parents, (and grandparents, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and uncles) to explore the reserve, learn about conservation and maybe even spot some exciting critters too!

In response to frequent requests from visitors we’re also improving the toilets and replacing Island Mere Hide to improve the views and give it a new, wheelchair and pram friendly entrance.  We’ve already improved the car park, giving it a better surface, wider and more parking bays.  All work will be completed by Spring 2012, so you can enjoy the most popular part of the birdwatching year!

And our partners are doing exciting things too.  At Zwin in Belgium a new visitor centre and visitor trails are being built.  At Lake Grevelingen in The Netherlands work is taking place to make the area intertidal and create sports and leisure facilities.  At Waterdunen, also in the Netherlands, a whole new nature reserve is being created, with the aim of making it a popular holiday destination to help revive the local area and economy.

Why are we doing this?  The short and simple answer is because we want to get people interested in nature.  The more people experience the natural world, the more they value it and the more likely we are to succeed in our conversation efforts.  How do we get folk interested in nature?  By making it easy for people to visit reserves, by giving exciting experiences and providing decent facilities.  We can’t guarantee you’ll see something rare, but we are pretty sure you’ll have a great day out.

So, next time you’re in the area how about stepping up for nature and visiting Minsmere, Waterdunen, Zwin or the Grevelingen?

Don’t forget that you can follow what’s happening at Minsmere by subscribing to the blog, here. 

Natura People is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Crossborder Programme 2007-2013.

The partners in this Natura People project are: RSPB (UK), Province of West Flanders (Belgium), Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands), and Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, (The Netherlands)

 The nature reserves benefiting from the Natura People project are:

RSPB Minsmere (UK)

Zwin (Provincie west-Vlaanderen, Belgium)

Waterdunen ( Provincie Zeeland, the Netherlands)

Grevelingen (Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, the Netherlands)