South Somerset biodiversity toolkit
South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has developed a toolkit for parishes to lead on biodiversity initiatives. Essentially the purpose of the toolkit is to help local groups create a biodiversity plan and deliver it. This is something that all councils now have to consider. Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act states: “Every public body must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity”. So SSDC’s initiative is a timely reminder to parishes and towns as new councillors are elected.
The toolkit splits into three sections. The first asks you to identify volunteers and survey existing habitats and species in your area. The second suggests you prioritise the actions that will deliver the best results from limited resources. Then determine how you can best use or change local habitats to improve biodiversity. Then in the third stage carry out your projects and monitor results.
If one was being harsh, you would say much in this toolkit is a statement of the obvious. But providing a template for local parishes, landowners and volunteer groups will do no harm/. And it saves people from constantly reinventing the wheel. Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) are running a project next month to survey biodiversity. It is a shame that SSDC did not consider linking with SWT’s initiative to kick start projects across the district.
The toolkit contains a lot of useful information in the form of contacts and reference points. Rachael Whaites, Countryside Manager at SSDC notes: “It is really important that we support our local parishes and landowners to manage and monitor wildlife. Both on their land and within communities. Our country parks and local nature reserves cannot halt the decline in biodiversity alone. We need them to be joined up so that species can move and increase in number. This is where the residents of South Somerset play a key role. I hope that communities enjoy getting involved with the natural world as much as we do.”
If you’d like to find out more you can link to the toolkit here https://www.southsomersetenvironment.co.uk/biodiversitytoolkit