You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
Blogger: Sarah Green, Project Co-ordinator - Natura People Partnership
October 2013 saw another Natura People partner meeting. The meeting was held near Lake Grevelingen at Renesse in the Netherlands and attended by representatives from all partners – the RSPB, Provincie West-Vlaanderen in Belgium, Provincie Zeeland in the Netherlands and Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen in the Netherlands.
Photo credit: Kris Struyf
Natura People was recently extended so we now have until 30th June 2014 to complete all actions in the project. This made for a packed schedule and quick catch ups! The project has two strands of activity – Connecting People with Nature and Connecting Businesses and Economics with Nature. While the RSPB has largely completed it’s actions for the former – see the new visitor facilities at Minsmere! – the partners are still working on their sites.
Zwin in Belgium have just started demolishing their old buildings in preparation for a brand new visitor centre, to be constructed next year. Waterdunen in Zeeland created a temporary visitor centre in a church in Groede in 2011, and are now working on plans for their permanent visitor centre. Natuur en-Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, the host for October’s meetings, have been very busy lately and in the last six months have opened a new mountain bike route along the Brouwersdam, installed a viewing point at the Battenoord harbour, and launched Meer Grevelingen, an interactive website, app and tourist guide for the area around Lake Grevelingen. Include din this guide are 3d models of second world war bunkers, a sunken ship in the lake and an ancient sunken village – Bommenade.
The partners were taken to see some of these local businesses. On a rainy afternoon we visited Nursery Zonnemaire, growing special vegetables, edible flowers and aromatic spices, all organic. In the evening we dined at The Vierbannen, which uses Zonnemaire’s produce. In the morning we had a tour of the Slikken van Flakkee and a lesson on the flora and fauna reliant on the salt water that floods the plain.
Photo credit: Kris Struyf
The second activity, Connecting Businesses and Economics with Nature, is still in progress. Each partner has been working with local businesses in a variety of different ways. Minsmere has developed their corporate membership package. Waterdunen and Zwin, who are geographically very close to each other, have worked together to develop an ambassador course for entrepreneurs in the Belgium/Dutch area. Natuur en-Recreatieschap de Grevelingen have used Zwin’s and Waterdunen’s course to develop their won Host of the Grevelingen programme. These courses teach delegates about the unique foods, sights and attractions in their local area. They also operate as networking opportunities, forging links and improving knowledge across the local tourist sector.
Our last two jobs are to produce an economic manual to show the economic and health benefits of nature reserves, and to deliver a Eurosites conference in 2014, showcasing the project results. We are nearly there with the economic manual. It is aimed at site managers, not economists, and can be used as an advocacy tool to show the powers-that-be the value of wildlife and green space. Stay tuned for more news on that!
The partner meetings closed with us all attending Zicht Op De Grevelingen – a conference celebrating the closure of Natuur en-Recreatieschap de Grevelingen’s first stage of their development programme. Yours truly gave a speech about Natura People, (in English thankfully!), and is very grateful for the numerous Dutch lessons over the years!
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
Blogger: Rachael Murray
As the New Year approaches, I can already feel that annual urge come upon me. You know the one, the need to ‘take stock’, that growing list parked in a corner of your mind, or idly scribbled on a scrap of paper as you watch TV after another turkey based meal. The wish list of things you hope the forthcoming 12 months may have in store.
Often these aspiration inventories include ways to improve our health, realise long held dreams, look after others or to bring new inspiration, resources and contacts into our lives.
As someone who has volunteered throughout my life, I can honestly say that one of the most ‘fix all’ solutions I have found for these early year yearnings is volunteering.
Where else can you experience the much needed physical and spiritual warmth generated by embracing a passion, getting active, meeting people and providing much needed support to others? And for some, it is the seedling that, in time, blossoms into a rewarding new career.
At the RSPB there are currently over 17,000 passionate, friendly people volunteering with us, each in their own way giving nature a home. This adds up to over one million hours of their time, each year!
However, there’s plenty of room for more. In particular, we are currently looking for two people passionate about conservation and a career in the sector, who are able to dedicate a year to volunteering on our Eastern England reserves, Frampton Marsh and Titchwell Marsh.
Our Conservation Interns work with our reserve management teams 5 days a week, and are provided with a high quality training programme, ongoing mentoring and lots of practical experience.
Paul Stagg, Conservation Volunteering Intern at Old Hall Marshes said “In conservation, experience is invaluable, as I soon discovered when I started looking for a job in the field. This Internship provides an excellent head start and gave me the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of reserve management - from survey work to land management to people engagement. I've waded through reed beds, herded cattle, taken conservation to the public through events and guided walks and stood in quiet wonder on nocturnal heaths listening to the chirring of nightjars all around.
The result is an outstanding wealth and depth of experience - you'll soon learn where your strengths lie and what you enjoy (it’s not always what you expect!). Along the way I always had a supportive team around me, happy to share their knowledge and teach me what they knew. There were countless opportunities to meet people already working in the field, gain the benefit of their experience and learn a wealth of skills. The natural world urgently needs passionate, versatile individuals to take on the challenge of protecting it and this is an excellent opportunity to gain the skills and experience you need to do just that”
The successful candidates will spend a year from early March working alongside RSPB staff at Frampton and Titchwell (6 months at each). Free accommodation is provided.
For more information about the scheme and for an application pack please contact Annie Cane 01603 660066 / Annie.Cane@rspb.org.uk. The closing date for applications is 5pm Friday 10 January 2014. Interview date is Tuesday 21 January.
In addition to residential volunteers, we have plenty of other volunteering roles to suit your lifestyle, interests and aspirations.
Ordinary people from all walks of life, with a variety of skills and with varying amount of time available, join with us every year to help give nature a home. Why don’t you make 2014 the year that you join the RSPB team?
Check out www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering for more information on all the volunteering opportunities available across the Eastern Region.
Blogger: Sarah Green
Stuck for Christmas ideas? Finding the shopping season a bit much and feel a need to get away from it all?
Why not support wildlife in the East through supporting RSPB Minsmere’s corporate members?
Tala is a long established kitchenware brand selling pretty vintage style equipment for all your baking, icing and preserving needs (and probably more besides!). Tala goods are stocked in loads of shops so should be easy to find if you are up for braving the crowds and shopping in person. If you have any problems finding stockists, you can contact them on twitter and facebook. I can personally confirm their biscuit cutters are well worth the price!
If the shopping is getting a bit much, and holiday season is leaving you in need of a break, how about booking a night or two at the Westleton Crown, just 2 miles from Minsmere, or the Ship at Dunwich, just 5 miles from Minsmere. Both have some special offers running throughout December so why not check them out. You could even get in a spot of winter wildlife watching at Minsmere!
Lastly, if you want to make your Christmas dinner really tasty, you could order some beef from Riverside Beef. Riverside Beef’s cattle graze in harmony with nature, on pastures and meadows in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. See the website for their retail outlets and information about their beef boxes delivered fresh to your door. Find them on twitter at @jonriverside.
And don’t forget, the RSPB online shop has hundreds of gift ideas or you can buy gifts in person at some of our reserves across the East including Minsmere, The Lodge and Titchwell.