The Solent, a tree, a country park and something special

It is not often you come across something special, but today was that day when walking along the shore at Fort Victoria Country Park I came across David Wallace and his horizontal tree carving.  Horizontal as the sea is ever encroaching on the land and the holm oaks are forever slip sliding into the sea.

David has taken to carving the fallen trees and this one is of the animal life of the Solent, both past and present. David stopped work for a moment and we counted how many species he had done. 24, no it was 25 in all as he had forgotten to count the seal at the base of the tree.

The Solent and the tree

View across the Solent from where David is carving the fallen tree.

I came back later in the day as David had kindly allowed me to take photos of him and his work. Whilst there I watched him engage with passers by enthralled by his work – he really is knowledgeable about the marine environment and people keep asking questions – often he spends more time talking to people than carving – but then it is all voluntary, so there are no targets to keep.

It’s the ‘aquarium’ for the ranger explained David – much easier to illustrate what lives in the sea than from any book or a picture. David has been carving since 8 years old, mostly public works of art with the occasional private commission. The Solent carving has taken two months and he says he will keep going until it is finished or indeed until it gets washed away by the sea.

Tree carving

Admiring the tree carving on the shoreline

A passer-by asked me what my favourite carving was, I immediately said the limpet, but on second thoughts it’s probably the sand slater or maybe even the stingray…

Location: Fort Victoria Country Park, Isle of Wight.

Addendum: This year we celebrate the Countryside Act’s 50th Anniversary.  One of the outcomes of the Act was the creation of Country Parks – and a key component of Country Parks was enjoyment of the countryside and I reckon David Wallace’s work is a fine example of Country Parks in action today.

The Countryside Act 50th Anniversary

This month see the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Countryside Act.  To celebrate this, an event was held recently by past staff and Board members of the Countryside Commission.  This was an opportunity to reflect on some of the achievements of the Act, many of which are still influencing countryside work today.

The Act was developed against a backdrop of an increasingly urban population, becoming more isolated from the benefits that the natural environment can provide and a recognition that something needed to be done about this. Sounds familiar!

The formal purpose of the act was

…to enlarge the functions of the National Parks Commission (NPC), to confer new powers on local authorities and other bodies for the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty and for the benefit of those resorting to the countryside and … to amend the law about trees and woodlands, footpaths, bridleways, and other public paths.

The Countryside Act bestowed powers to undertake or grant-aid experimental research projects, powers that have now been inherited by Natural England.  From this came hugely significant initiatives that remain with us today. One example is the early thinking and piloting of practical land management that led to Countryside Stewardship including a landscape monitoring initiative that has now been running for 44 years (Another was Country Parks next post)

A second and contrasting example is the support that was given to the National Small Woods Association.  This is described by Ian Baker (current CEO) in his blog, which also provides a further insightful consideration of the 50th anniversary: https://www.facebook.com/smallwoods.org.uk/posts/2191623497518998.  The establishment of the National Forest in the early 1990’s in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire and the suite of Community Forests which followed elsewhere is yet another example.  These have provided the inspiration for the commitment to create a new Northern Forest in the Defra 25 Year Plan.

Natural England’s drive to create resilient landscapes and seas; to put people at the heart of the environment and to grow natural capital, enshrined in their Conservation 21 Strategy, now carries the mantle in the 21st Century.  In this context, it was great to hear the reflections of those involved in some of the early pioneering work including from Adrian Phillips and Michael Dower, both Director Generals of the Countryside Commission, created by the Act to replace the NPC, as well as those of Marian Spain (Natural England Board member, CEO Plantlife, New Forest Park Authority), who focused on the continuing relevance of the legacy of the Countryside Act today.

Next year the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 will be 70 years old and no doubt itself will be the subject of its own anniversary celebrations.  Michael Gove, Secretary of State (Defra) recently announced a review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This review, to be led by Julian Glover, will bring us back full circle to ‘look at how these iconic landscapes meet our needs in the 21st century’.  The legacy of the great achievements that stemmed from the Countryside Act 1968 will no doubt be an important backdrop to the Glover Review.

 

With thanks to David Vose, Natural England.

Photographing the Greensand Country

Greensand Country Landscape Partnership

It was particularly pleasing to secure a photography commission from the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership as previously, some years back, I had played a part in helping to devise the Audience Development Plan for the project.

My current role is to help build up a library of photographs that feature the distinctive qualities of the Greensand Country. The two days recently spent in the area were to focus on taking photographs of the first Greensand Country Festival (26th May – 3rd June 2018) with the photos helping to monitor progress and for use in future Festival guides and publicity.

In all I attended 6 Festival events ranging from a ramblers walk, a very well attended Walk4health walk through the lovely and recently restored Ampthill Great Park (again HLF Funded) a Forest School activity through to a singing event on Woburn Sands Station!

I thoroughly enjoyed the two days which was really helped by people happily allowing me to take their photographs.  While taking the photos I must have spoken to several dozen people and it is surprising how few have heard of the HLF funded Landscape Partnership schemes.

These Landscape Partnerships have helped restore many local landscapes up and around the country and one that has engaged many thousands of people in the process. Just one of life’s hidden gems, I guess.

Background: Greensand Country is an island of distinctive, beautiful and loved countryside in the heart of Bedfordshire. The area contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining heathland, more than half of its woodland and more historic parkland per hectare than anywhere else in the country. It is a landscape rich in wildlife and cultural heritage, with its own special qualities and sense of place.

More info: http://greensandcountry.com/

Photographs. Taken by Pete Johnstone, published courtesy of Greensand Country ©. All images have parental permissions where required.

 

 

West Wight People and Place (Isle of Wight)

Final (frantic?) touches are going into the exhibition which launches next week at the Dimbola Museum and Galleries, in Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight.

I am really looking forward to the exhibition opening and show casing the many fascinating people I have photographed in West Wight over the past year.

West Wight People and Place seeks to capture the contribution that people are making to this diverse rural community, be it around the sea, landscape, heritage or the community itself.

Also great to be co-hosted with Jan Ramscar.

Pete Johnstone

 

 

 

Wild Flower funding (UK)

Grow Wild Community Project Funding 2018

The innovative wild flower project from Kew has another funding round.

Grants are available to groups and projects working on activities to connect and celebrate UK native wildflowers, plants and fungi.

Grants of £2000 or £4000 are available

Grow Wild will fund 50 groups in 2018 across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Voluntary and charitable groups can apply – must be constituted and not – for -profit.

Deadline: 15th January 2018

More information: https://www.growwilduk.com/project-funding

Grow Wild is funded by the Big  Lottery Fund

 

Photo: Wild Flower meadow, Isle of Wight ©Pete Johnstone.

Re thinking Parks – Replication awards (UK)

Re thinking Parks – Replication awards

Nesta, the Innovation charity along with the Heritage Lottery Fund, both of whom have a long-standing interest in saving parks have opened a new award scheme to help organisations rethink parks across the UK,

Whether you are from a local authority, social enterprise, business improvement district, ‘Friends of’ group, or beyond, Nesta would love to hear your plans and ideas on how we can rethink parks across the UK.

There are two funding streams in this current round of funding – the Replication award and the Prototyping award.

As always Nesta are looking for innovative approaches to the management of parks which could include the setting up of Parks Foundations and ways to use digital technology to help address the challenges that face parks.

Further details here

Deadline: Tuesday 27th February 2018

Isle of Wight travels (May)

I am still very much enjoying exploring my new surroundings on the isle of Wight – not yet a year in and still so much more to see – I enjoyed the walk around Mill Copse a woodland managed my the Wight Fund for Nature a volunteer group who manage several other nature reserves on the Island.

I’m pleased to be working with Freshwater Parish Council on their rich array of green spaces dotted around the village which include recreation ground, sports field, ancient wood and pond complete with a floating island. The council owned green spaces link in well with rights of way and other open space managed by a variety of organisations.

Energy is a new crop – Solar Panels are now to be found on many farms and Rye is a popular crop to be grown – not for food but for the anaerobic digester plant on the island.

Talking to the willow worker I met in Yarmouth, I learnt that local fishermen use to weave lobster pots from the willows growing along the River Yar, this craft is no longer around, but good to see a willow bower being made alongside the footpath looking up the estuary.

Cycling and walking – funding – competition

Well done DoT – a good competition – lets hope it is one of many to come!

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a £470,000 competition for innovative projects that lead to more walking and cycling. The Department is seeking proposals that will tackle current barriers and encourage more journeys made by bicycle or on foot.

It is particularly suitable for early-stage, small and medium-sized enterprises. Industry partners such as local government, independent and third sectors can carry out the project on their own or in partnership with others.

This competition has 2 phases. Phase 1(£170,000) is for proof of concept projects that can last up to 15 weeks and range in size up to a total cost of £25,000 each. Phase 2 (£300,00) is for demonstrator projects. Projects that can last up to 9 months. They can range in size up to a total cost of £100,000 per project.

 

Deadline: Applicants must register before midday on the 7th June 2017 and submit their application before midday on the 14th June 2017.

Details: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-competition-innovation-in-cycling-and-walking

 

Crowdfunding partnerships coming on stream (UK, in part)

As crowdfunding becomes more popular, the larger grant funding bodies and institutions are not only taking notice but are starting to allocate some money to projects albeit with  conditions, not least being they will only fund crowdfunding projects in certain chosen areas in the UK.

However, if you happen to live in one of the chosen areas then it could be good news as the funding is targeted at largely environmental, heritage,community and art based projects – areas of funding that is now hard to come by.

So thumbs up to the grant bodies who have allocated money to crowdfunding – next step perhaps is to allocate funds nationwide!

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with crowdfunding platform Spacehive has launched a new funding pot of £200,000 to support crowdfunding projects in Hull, Manchester and the London Borough of Lewisham.

More details: EFF/Spacehive

Crowdfunder have managed to secure agreements with the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund for arts projects in England and heritage based projects in Scotland and NW and SW England.

More details: Crowdfunder

And finally Santander through their Changemaker Fund is putting up to £200,000 to support social enterprises, community groups and small charities in the UK that help disadvantaged people in local communities.

More details: Changemaker

Good luck and as always let me know how you get on with your crowdfunding project and your application to match funds from any of the partnerships above.

Isle of Wight – environmental grant funding support and advice from PJ.elements

PJ.elements update

Our move from Cambridgeshire to the Isle of Wight has been successful and we are now looking to continue our work to help communities and environmental organisations both here on the Island and elsewhere in the UK.

The work that PJ.elements can provide includes:

Project development

Developing funding plans, scoping funding opportunities and working with organisations with business planning and raising the profile and public appeal of your organisation.

Examples of previous work: Funding plans for the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, the charity Cambridge Past Present and Future. Audience development work for Heritage Lottery Fund funded landscape partnership schemes and a funding and right of way project with the rural charity Cambridgeshire ACRE.

Fundraising

Fundraising for specific projects and help with applications to lottery bodies, trusts and foundations, including supporting crowdfunding campaigns.

Examples of previous work: Project managing a crowdfunding campaign * with Natural England and 5 wildlife organisations and successful fundraising for a Local Nature Partnership.

Photography

Our photography has been used widely to support funding bids, help illustrate work in progress and providing stock images for PR purposes. The focus of the photography is around people and the environment.

Examples of previous work: Commissioned work for WildlifeTrustBCN, the David Attenborough Conservation Building and numerous HLF funded projects.

Pete Johnstone who runs PJ.elements is keen to hear from parish councils, community groups and environmental organisations who may need help in any of the above areas.

For an informal chat to discuss your project ideas and to get a quote please contact:

Pete Johnstone

Email: pete.johnstone (at) btinternet.com

Phone: 07842 572632

*As part of the evaluation the Crowdfunding Nature campaign we made a video Tips for Success – watch it here > :  https://youtu.be/WIPa4SzTWn0