There have already been a range of activities undertaken as part of Chalking up the Benefits.
‘Naturegain Going Local’ workshops
The latest development of the Naturegain going Local workshop process has been for the Environment Agency’s Coastal Communities 2150 project, where we expanded the original workshop process to include a wider focal area – the CC2150 project area from Seaford west to past Newhaven and up the Ouse to just north of Lewes.
We also expanded the process to include a look at how climate change is likely to affect this area and, significantly, how local communities can start to plan now to adapt to future climate change. The message being, the earlier we start to plan for adaptation and look to working with our environment to help with this, the more likely we are to adapt successfully and positively.
Reports are now out on the Workshop and there is also a ‘Synopsis Template’ – a document that guides you through how to run the workshop process. The aim here is to help other communities to try the workshops for themselves and see what they learn.
We’re also having a short film made of the workshop process to help other groups that may wish to use this workshop tool to introduce Naturegain and also to look into community adaptation to climate change.
The Going Local workshop process was originally devised by L&OVe Group members before the Chalking up the Benefits project began and we presented a poster on the early trials of the workshop at a conference in Scotland called ‘Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions‘ run by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in April 2012. The poster can be downloaded and viewed from this web page.
The Big Benefits Game
We have had a stall at several public events and developed ‘The Big Benefits Game’ to help engage people with exploring local naturegain and identifying where the benefits are provided – more here and here.
At the Lewes Railway Land summer festival, we also trialled Naturegain poems as a means of tapping into people’s creative and literary urges to express the benefits they feel from nature. Thanks to Susan Thompson and Richard Wolfströme, there was a really good response from people.
We have started taking ‘Naturegain Walks’ with Michael Blencowe (Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Community Wildlife Officer), where the public are invited to join us for a walk through the local countryside during which Michael points out interesting features we encounter within the local biodiversity and Colin leads participants to explore the benefits of various kinds that the particular habitat provides to Lewes and its residents. There’s more on the ‘What’s the landscape ever done for us’ naturegain walk over Malling Down here and reflections on our ‘What’s the Ouse ever done for us’ walk here. Although you may be sitting inside as you read this, Sussex Wildlife Trust have done a great job of helping start the process of taking you for a virtual walk across the Lewes Downs – have a look here to get the feeling of being up there now (- just scroll down a bit when the birds start singing!)!
Valuing Ecosystem Services for Lewes
Colin has also been working with a team from Sussex Wildlife Trust, Lewes Railway Land Wildife Trust and Natural England on ‘Valuing Ecosystem Services for Lewes (VESL)’. The team is starting to detail the benefits that come from different parts of the local landscape and drawing up criteria for their valuation. One early output from this has been the production of a series of maps showing different aspects of the project area. An example is given below.
L&OVe has also been invited to be a member of the Coastal Futures Group of the Environment Agency’s Coastal Communities 2150 project, that is looking at what climate change may bring for our locality in135 years time and what we may be able to do to adapt to the possible changes. The point here is that understanding what our local landscapes can do in terms of capturing water, reducing run-off, reducing soil erosion, acting as a sink for flood waters, providing shade, providing storm buffers, etc. may help give us more options when faced with possible weather extremes in the future.