Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blue skies thinking at the common

Southampton Common sans the 14,000 visitors...

Southampton City Council, in conjunction with the BBC, ran its 'Springwatch' festival on the common today. The event appeared very successful with an estimated 14,000 people in attendance at some time during the course of the event. Attractions included a 'Discovery Trail' - guiding people to different zones around the Common, each with an 'environmental' theme including some live exhibits, storytelling, crafts and other activities. The 'Springwatch Trackers Trail' was run by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust which seemed popular with older visitors. There was live music and entertainment on the Festival Stage throughout the day, including 'Challenge the Expert' in a Nature Generation Game style show. Chaos reigned at the 'Kidsrome Farm', a city type farm that was very popular while the BBC organised a programme of talks and demonstrations from wildlife experts, including Chris Packham, in the 'Do One Thing' zone, where guests could have a go at being a wildlife presenter and using an autocue (more difficult than it looks!)
I had put in a bit of work myself as I was keen to make a good impression with some of the senior members of Natural England who were in attendance. This is the successor body to bits of English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service and they are going to be very important to the future of the common over the next few years. Firstly, they are the body that regulates and ensures that the Council meets its statutory obligations regarding the preservation of the site. Natural England also offers fairly hands on conservation advice. They will be helping the Council write its next 'Southampton Common Management Plan'. Perhaps more importantly, they have money. The Council need to buy mowers and some other kit and we badly need to do some conservation work (and haven't got the readies) so we need to find some cash from somewhere. If this remedial work is not completed by 2010, the council risks prosecution. Personally, I am hopeful that in the long-run, Natural England may help us out and that the lottery may come up trumps too as the last bid we received in 2000 was perceived as a success.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went there with a child and I thought the event was great. Sometimes Southampton really does do some things very well. This event was informative, educational, kids friendly, and maybe most importantly... it was fun. Well done to all involved in it.

4:40 pm  

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