Summary & Outcomes
The Community Gateway work aimed to engage communities in a variety of nature conservation activities to build a shared vision of landscapes of the future and get involved in their local area. A key aim was to engage with all 40 parishes within the WPNIA during the three years of the project.
A Community Gateway Officer was appointed during the first year, and hosted by Dorset Wildlife Trust. An action plan was developed after assessing existing parish interest across the area. From then on, work focussed on a wide variety of organisations and groups across Purbeck, including schools, Rotary clubs, scout and guide groups, parish councils, libraries and gardeners clubs. Involvement has ranged from talks and activities to films and bioblitzes.
Two key events included “Wild About Wareham” and “Wild About Swanage” which each attracted over 500 people. 16 different local partner organisations provided environmental information and activities. “Wild About Brownsea” was attended by over 250 visitors.
The Community Gateway project has been incredibly successful at engaging a wide variety of audiences who are not generally engaged with conservation work or other Wild Purbeck projects. Further details on individual successes can be obtained from the Dorset Wildlife Trust, but the following give an indication of the breadth of coverage:
- 29 parishes have held 1 or more events to celebrate or enhance their surroundings
- 9 parishes are engaged in a series of on-going projects
- 6 community wildlife champions have been recruited
- 11 schools or preschool centres are now improving their grounds for wildlife
- 6 new community green spaces are being created within the NIA
- Over 4,120 people have been engaged in dialogue about landscape change
A small community grants scheme was also offered, to provide small amounts of funding to help with specific projects. Highlights of this included:
- Enabling Lulworth and Winfrith Primary school to redevelop their play areas to encourage wildlife and enhance learning about the natural environment
- Wareham Children’s Centre working with families to develop a wildlife area in the Centre garden to improve children’s observational and communication skills. This project involved a number of partners which reduced the overall cost of the scheme and resulted in considerable cross organisational benefits. Work included removing conifers to let in more light and developing the area as a nature discovery area.
- Equipment to enable Wareham cubs and scouts discover more about wildlife on their doorstep and carry out conservation work on the heaths
- Souls Moor Nature Reserve was funded to install interpretation signs depicting the wildlife interest on this new village nature reserve and the adjacent Bere Stream.
- Lytchett Matravers Pre-school were funded to develop their existing nature area to encourage more wildlife so that the children are able to learn more about how to care for their environment and wildlife.
Highlights & Challenges
The main highlight was that the response to the projects approaches was extremely enthusiastic – individuals care very much about their locale and the wildlife living there. People also had very clear ideas about what they would like to see happen in their areas. Young people under the age of 14 join any wildlife related activities with great gusto, while the 14-20 age group require a lot more motivation and need to be appealed to on their own terms. Projects involving one community group e.g. schools were straightforward to achieve, while some projects involving community spaces are still on-going, due to protracted negotiations with Parish Councils or landowners.
The Community Gateway work will continue until the end of 2015, and is a priority to take forward into the next phase of Wild Purbeck.
For more information about Community Gateway and how to get involved see Dorset Wildlife Trust.