by Beatrix Apperley, FOSP Secretary.
The Friends of Saintbridge Pond (FOSP) are a group of volunteers, including me, that work to conserve the flora and fauna of the nature reserve for the benefit of the environment and the public visiting the site. In 2015 I submitted my dissertation which was investigating if the site could achieve the Green Flag, a prestigious award for open spaces, ranging from play parks to nature reserves. This dissertation was then handed to the Green Flag judges on the date of their Field Assessment in order to aid the judging process. The first two years we applied for the award it we were unsuccessful, however in 2017 we achieved the award, and FOSP were delighted with this. As a result we were given feedback on how the site could improve. The Green Flag Award is an ongoing process, however, and so we will be subject to the judging of a ‘Mystery Shopper’ visit this year, and a full assessment next year. This article is a comprehensive explanation of the actions we need to undertake, taken from the feedback document, in order to stand ourselves in good stead for the upcoming assessments. Rather excitingly, there are already a few items that we have already been improving on which help towards the Green Flag and I will outline these as well.
Items to Implement
We need first and foremost to determine what physical improvements Gloucester City Council and the Environment Agency would like us to undertake. The work we undertake is based on the views of the members and each task is undertaken considering effects on natural biodiversity and the public viewpoint. Once we know the work that is expected of us, we can put that as a priority.
Secondly, we have an conscientious Health and Safety officer, and effective documentation of policies etc, but the Green Flag judges would like this information to be available to the public. We will therefore be adding a new section to the website for this to be accessible. In addition, a leaflet to outline the safety precautions taken to protect visitors to the site would be beneficial to those unsure whether to visit or not.
The flow of command and our relationship with other bodies has always been known within the group but the Green Flag judges would like this defined, so a diagram will be made to demonstrate the relationships the group has. Since the start of this article a draft of this diagram has already been produced.
We have undertaken lots of work in the wetland area of the woodland walk, opposite the main feeding area, in order to reduce leaf litter and make it more solid underfoot. This area is still under careful management to help the environment; I believe documentation of this would help the Green Flag judges.
• The website is developing greatly, and with the help of articles just like this one, the site is being populated with content from our volunteers’ wealth of knowledge.
• FOSP has recently obtained large bins for recycling metal, glass and plastic, which means we are now more easily able the litter we pick up.
• The green waste produced from our work is now left to decompose into compost on the allotments and frees up space on the nature reserve for habitat development
• The nature reserve is always under development for public use, most recently the renovation of the main feeding area last year, and in the woodland walk, increased visibility for public safety and the development of a new feeding area dedicated to our founding members.
• The Seed Swap Initiative has been set up to reduce bread being fed to the ducks, which will have a knock-on effect of fewer rats. We are currently hoping to sell bags of seed when we run events throughout the summer.
• We have a subcommittee devoted to help run fun events throughout the warmer months, in order to get people into the open and excited about nature. I am very optimistic the events will be a big success. Another article is in production reviewing how the events of this summer went.
To summarise, we are elated to have received the award this year, and every task that I feel is necessary to be in a good position for judging next year is well within our capabilities. I feel that if we continue with the work ongoing, and make progress on the items to implement, we will be able to achieve the award again this coming year.
All of this could not be possible without the help of our lovely loyal volunteers, and we are always grateful to them for their continued support in this, and every, endeavour. If you are interested in anything about the work we do or you would like to get involved please feel free to get in touch via the routes listed on the website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help us maintain the pond and surrounding area by making a donation to help fund the work we do as volunteers. You’ll be helping us with your donation, 100% of funds received go to the work we do in conservation.