Dear Board members,
A Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all managed to have a good break over Christmas despite everything that has been going on?
I just wanted to give an interim update on a few aspects of Watercress and Winterbournes ahead of our February Board meeting. Some of these need responses so please do take some time to have a look through:
W&W Grant Scheme
I briefly touched on the fact that we will be launching the W&W Community Grant Scheme in early 2021. We have debated about whether lockdown was a good time to do this but on balance we think it means that people have got more time to think about projects and spend time developing them so on the whole we think that going ahead is probably the best plan. It is now planned to be launched in the first half of February.
The scheme will offer grants of up to £5,000 to community groups that want to deliver projects that are within the Watercress and Winterbournes area and meet one or both of the following aims:
· Improve the condition of locally important habitats and associated built heritage
· Enable people to explore and enjoy the landscape’s natural and cultural heritage
But will give priority to those that deliver the 5 W&W objectives:
- Increasing the resilience and quality of our chalk stream biodiversity, reversing species declines and providing a buffer against pressures such as pollution, water extraction, and climate change.
- Ensuring that communities play an essential role in caring for their local chalk streams and are equipped to do so.
- Ensuring that communities can take steps to improve the health of their chalk streams by eradicating invasive non-native species, reducing identified local pollution sources, and reducing water use.
- Ensuring that all members of the community have the opportunity to explore and celebrate their chalk stream heritage.
- Enabling land managers to manage their land in a chalk stream-friendly way, whether they are farmers, businesses, councils, angling clubs or residents with streamside gardens
We plan to have two application rounds per year and after an initial assessment by the team, I propose that applications are considered by a Decision-Making Board made up for Board Members. I am therefore asking for Board Members to put their names forward if they are interested in this please. I would like a pool of willing Board Members so that I can have a minimum of 4 per Decision-Making Meeting which will take into account not everyone being available each time. This won’t be onerous and will only be a maximum of 2 meetings per year – less if I have enough people, but you will need to allocate time to read through applications and their initial assessments.
Please let me know if you are interested in being involved in this please.
Communications Working Group
Communications will play an important role in the scheme, both for the partnership and for our engagement with the public. To ensure that all partners have the chance to benefit we are launching a new Communications Working Group comprised of a representative from each organisation.
This is a great opportunity to further publicise your activities – for example, we can include some news and events in the scheme e-newsletter. It will also help keep you updated on activities which may be of value to your audiences, such as events, consultations, and competitions that they can take part in.
Please nominate a staff member to be your representative – they don’t need to be a communications or marketing specialist. They will be the point of contact for relevant enquiries from the scheme team, be aware of W&W communications procedures, and keep us updated on major developments. The group will mostly liaise over email, with the occasional video meeting.
Please send the contact details for your representative, or any queries, to Sophie Evingar – email@example.com
As part of the Natural Flood Management project, we are currently gathering public opinion through an online questionnaire. This forms part of research being done by Vicki Westall, Strategic Flood and Water Management Co‐ordinator at our scheme partner Hampshire County Council.
The findings of this questionnaire will directly benefit the scheme by giving insight into the potential implementation of NFM measures in our local chalk streams. They will also be used to shape the scheme events we run on this topic in the future.
The more responses the questionnaire has, the better picture we can build of local public opinions on NFM – we are keen to hear from those who live, work, and own land in Hampshire. If you can, please circulate this questionnaire to your relevant contacts and encourage them to fill it in.
Online questionnaire: www.hiwwt.org.uk/winterbournes/flooding
We have the following online training course events coming up over the next couple of months. These are open to anyone within the W&W area so if you have routes to promote these to people within the Watercress and Winterbournes area, then please feel free to do so.
Chalk Stream Plants – Maggie Shelton
A closer look at the plants that are native to our local chalk streams
Thursday 25th Feb 2021 10am to 11.30 am
Managing your Garden Riverbank for Wildlife – Susan Simmonds
Riverbank management – a look at beneficial wetland plants for wildlife and the sort of wildlife that you could encourage with the correct management.
Wednesday 10th March 2021- 7pm to 8.30pm
People wanting to book onto either of these two sessions should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wild Trout Trust have kindly recently run successful sessions on chalk stream fish and redd surveys, both of which have been popular (although unfortunately we had to cancel the practical part of the redd survey training due to Covid restrictions coming into place). We are keen to keep our volunteers, communities and landowners learning more about their chalk streams during lockdown so if you have any suggestions of subjects that can be delivered online or people that might be willing to deliver them then please let me know.
Tales from the Riverbank Photography Competition
Just to let you know that as part of the Tales from the Riverbank engagement project we will shortly be launching a chalk stream photography competition so please look out for this. It will be open to Hampshire residents taking images of the scheme area and will run until the end of June 2021.
There will be prizes in four main categories (Heritage, Landscape, People, and Wildlife), as well as additional Community Choice and Young Photographer prizes. All successful entrants will receive photography vouchers, and their photos will be considered for inclusion in pop-up/digital exhibitions later in the year.
To show a fair and unbiased process, employees of the partner organisations and their immediate families cannot enter the competition. However, we would be grateful for help in raising awareness about this creative opportunity – we will send out full details once it is launched so please do circulate these to any relevant audiences and contacts.
Please do come back to me with any questions about any of these items.
Watercress and Winterbournes Partnership Manager
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust