Blogger: Sarah Green, Project Coordinator - Natura People Partnership Project  

The flowers are blossoming, Eurovision is just around the corner and the days are getting longer, it must be time for another Natura People partner meeting!

Every 6 months we (myself and colleagues from Provincie Zeeland, Provincie West-Vlaanderen, Natuur –en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen and of course the RSPB) get together to discuss progress of our shared work, known as Natura People. 

What is this Natura People?  Well, it’s the name of an Interreg funded project that allows partners across the UK, Netherlands and Belgium to share and develop new ways of engaging with visitors, businesses and politicians.  Our work will allow us to improve our nature reserves, save nature, teach more people about the importance of nature and, pretty important this one, convince the powerful folk that make the decisions that they should invest in nature reserves and conservation, as an environment rich in wildlife benefits people’s health and brings in money!  (It’s true – see our Natural Foundations report found here)

So, what did we do on this latest set of meetings?  We met near Lake Grevelingen in the town of Scharendijke in the Netherlands.  A calm ferry crossing from Harwich to the Hoek Van Holland and a short drive later found us at the lovely Resort Land en Zee. The partners joined us the next day (having only had an hour or so to travel) and we got on with the important business of discussing our work and project progress.

We are nearing completion of our economic model which will show the (positive!) economic impact of nature reserves and will provide guidance on mobilising funds for investment in nature reserves.  We have just appointed CE Delft to carry out case study work on the partner sites to back up the model, and each partner is working with local businesses to improve tourism to the region.

We also discussed developments at each partner’s reserve.  Minsmere has undergone a complete renovation with a new shop, new cafe, new reception centre, new hide and new family area – the Wild ZoneZwinis at an earlier stage in their redevelopment, but things are picking up and work will start soon.  The same goes for the Grevelingen project.  Waterdunen’s visitor centre has now re-opened for the summer and promises to be an exciting day out for all the family.

The project website is now live (http://www.naturapeople.eu) and will be regularly updated with news from all four partners. But it wasn’t all meetings.  We did get to have a look round Lake Grevelingen, where I discovered jellyfish!  Pretty little pulsating things with delicate, translucent tendrils, which I have tentatively identified as this species:

Our boat trip out to one of the islands showed just how huge this Lake is.  It’s the largest saltwater lake in Europe, separated from the sea by the Brouwersdam.  It’s home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, and is a really beautiful, peaceful spot, but is in desperate need of work to reverse the decline in water quality. Natura People is the start of a much wider project to reinvigorate the lake.

Do you like the sound of this Lake?  Fancy finding out more about the partner sites?  Visit the links page (http://www.naturapeople.eu/en/content/links) of the Natura People website to find the relevant web pages.

Are you a local business and would you like to know more about this project?  Would you like to work with us to help save nature in your area?  If so, please contact Sarah Green, project coordinator on 01603 697 597 or on email sarah.green@rspb.org.uk

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