It was a pleasure to meet up with Emily Stroud (picture right, above)recently from the Secrets of the Solent Project as we visited a number of coastal sites around West Wight.
Secrets of the Solent is a Heritage Lottery funded project, run by the Hants and Isle of Wight Trust aimed at raising the profile, understanding of the marine environment in the Solent. The project area is large covering the north coast of the Isle of Wight and a long stretch of mainland coast and estuaries including Portsmouth and Southampton.
Emily explained that the Solent is a wildlife gem, with hidden seagrass meadows and chalk reefs below the surface. However, in spite of it being a well populated area with heavy industry in places, it is also rich in wildlife and is an inspiring landscape. The project is funded for just 4 years and there is plenty to do in terms of getting volunteers involved and helping to collect wildlife data to help better protect marine life and habitats.
Over the life of the initiative the team will engage with communities through art and citizen science, groups, local businesses connected with the Solent to better appreciate what we have but also to encourage personal action to protect the natural heritage.
Without question the team’s task is ambitious but to my mind the project could not come at a better time than now. As we leave the EU, we must ensure that the EU nature designations are replaced with new protection measures that are robust – to do that we all need to appreciate learn what our natural environment has to offer – no more so than the marine environment as it is so hidden from pubic view. If Secrets of the Solent can help communicate and help us better understand the Solent environment then it is a job well done.
For more information visit Secrets of the Solent
Photos: Pete Johnstone