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Conservation inspiration: future planning

“Wild walks” leading to an even greener future for Somerset park

Picture perfect: high nectar-bearing blooms at Holiday Resort Unity provide vital foraging for insects
Picture perfect: high nectar-bearing blooms at Holiday Resort Unity provide vital foraging for insects

At the heart of the David Bellamy Scheme is long-term planning for good environmental management. In Somerset, Holiday Resort Unity has proved the value of such strategic action by recently completing a three-year park-wide conservation plan

The project involved a holistic approach that focused on the creation and enhancement of habitats and wildlife corridors, taking into account local flora, fauna and environmental conditions. The park faced a number of specific challenges, including the fact that it is responsible for managing a local Site of Special Scientific interest – an obligation that necessitates good communications with Natural England to ensure that the area is properly managed and remains in good condition.

“I grew up in the countryside and developed an overwhelming passion for all things wild around me,” says head gardener, Mick Rayner. “When I was asked me to look after our conservation and wildlife, at first I thought “Be careful what you wish for”, and then I just went for it!  I knew we could not let our younger generation grow up having little understanding of the beautiful world of wildlife with which we co-exist.”

“My first task was restoring the park’s drainage rhyne and its adjoining areas,” Mick explains. “I was determined not to buy in materials for the project.  We made habitats with the fell from the tree works we carried out over winter and using compost from our gardens.  We then started to grown all our own plants.”

The plan has made a big difference to the park, boosting the number of places where wildlife can feed and make a home. This has led to a real increase in the diversity and numbers of plants and creatures that have been seen.

“Our guests love it,” says Mick. “They want to get involved and have been asking about what they can do to help make a difference. To capitalise on this, we trialled our first Wild Walk this month, which had an overwhelming uptake of 50 guests. People of all ages attended which was great to see. We are planning to run these, along with other conservation events regularly.

“If a park is looking to put together an environmental management plan for it grounds, it is vital to lay out your plans, take your time and adjust things as you go,” Mick recommends. “Seek advice if you are not sure about something. There are plenty of organisations out there that can help.  Monitor the wildlife that visits your park and keep good records, otherwise you won’t know whether your project is working.  Last, but not least, make sure you have the support from the organisation or the owners that you work for, like I have.”

Seeking inspiration for new ways in which your park can help protect the natural world? In these articles, Rufus Bellamy, head of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme, highlights some of the latest initiatives being taken. For more ideas, visit http://stayuknews.co.uk/conservation/