Crowdfunding Nature – evaluation video on recent work to test the effectiveness of crowdfunding for wildlife organisations in the East of England

Crowdfunding Nature – Project Update (June 2016)

Keep the Nightingales Singing!

Project update: As part of the Crowdfunding for Nature project, Natural England and local charity Nene Coppicing and Crafts raised £5200 from 90 backers from the UK crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder.
Crowdfunding Nature is an initiative run by the East of England Biodiversity Forum and managed by PJ.elements and CrowfundUK. The initiative is currently undergoing evaluation and a short video of the lessons learned to help other environmental organisations with crowdfunding campaigns will be out soon.

Elements of the Landscape

Now at the start of April, Elements in the Landscape is just beginning to take shape with lots of phone calls resulting in some more people allowing me to take their photograph. My project is very much about the people in the landscape and their connection to it as it is about the landscape itself.

Jenny Furong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong is the volunteer Curator of Chatteris Museum, a post she has held for 15 years and now shares with Ian Mason. The Museum moved to the present location in Chatteris in 1995.

One of the exhibits in the Museum is on Cornelius Vermuyden who in the 1650s commissioned by the Crown, directed major projects to drain the Fens and who constructed a system of ‘washes’, to allow periodic flooding of the area by water.

 

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Welney Residents Users Group is a community action group that was formed in 2014 and established as a charity in March 2015. In April 2015 RUG took over the lease of Sandgate Corner – a large overgrown field in the north of the village. Welney RUG are in the process of turning the area into a community greenspace and wildlife area, with orchard, sensory garden and play area.

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard.

Peter Gardiner a resident of Welney for almost 17 years and a member of RUG has recently retired and has spent some of his spare time helping with the selection, planning and planting of the orchard and native trees.

The young fruit trees will require yearly pruning and with this in mind Peter and another resident recently attended a pruning course with the East of England Apples and Orchards Project to learn the necessary skills required to maintain the new fruit trees.

 

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens.

The fens have changed my life said Fred, an artist who has a passion for painting the fens landscape. I will be painting a scene when a farmer will come up to me and tell me some amazing stories, there is a certain quality about the fen people and landscape which is unique and not to be found anywhere else.

PJ.elements have been awarded a small grant by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme to deliver Elements of the Landscape, a project to photograph people living and working in the Ouse Washes landscape and document their story through images. The people captured in the portraits will have a connection to the land or water, farming, biodiversity crafts or community life.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

The wildlife property developer of the fens

At first glance the Fens landscape surrounding the Ouse Washes does not feel like a place that is rich in wildlife, indeed it is has a strong farming heritage and is well known in the UK for growing salad crops, root vegetables and wheat in the low lying fertile soils. However, I was to learn something different as I was to meet Cliff Carson the Environmental Officer for the Middle Level Commissioners, the organisation that manages the flood defence and water levels in the Ouse Washes area and beyond.

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The Middle Level Commissioners.

As I drove down a narrow fen road to meet Cliff I passed by several half – built and now derelict bungalows which for some untold reason had been abandoned by the owners before they were completed and they looked a real mess and blot on the landscape. I met up with Cliff and we drove off in his truck to survey work he has done over the last five years for the Middle Level Internal Drainage Board Biodiversity Action Plan. Essentially wildlife improvements for the most threatened plants and animals that require some conservation help along the way, both to increase their numbers and the places where they live.

Over the length of the day we visited pumping stations to inspect on bat boxes and barn owl boxes that Cliff had constructed over the last five years. In fact, 92 barn owl boxes to be exact, erected in barns and on the sides of pumping stations – these boxes are well used and are really important for the breeding success of the owls as there is precious little natural nesting sites for the birds.

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Inspecting a barn owl box on the side of a pumping station.

The reason for meeting Cliff was as part of my Elements in the Landscape project to photograph people who live and work in the Ouse Washes landscape and who have some connection with it – and Cliff certainly fitted my criteria as he spent over 30 years with the RSPB at the Ouse Washes reserve and more recently 10 years with the Middle Level Commissioners.

Under a road bridge Cliff showed me the difference between otter spraints and mink scats, with the former apparently having a strong musky smell, not that I noticed that much on the cold February morning! It is good to know the otter is holding its own in the area, although some are being found drowned in the illegal eel nets as eel numbers begin to increase.   Cliff has helped the otter population too with constructing over 70 otter holts along the banks of the drains with the help of funding from Landfill Community Fund grants.

 

 

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Clearing out kingfisher holes in the metal revetment.

The Kingfisher is another species that has had a helping hand – here Cliff has bored over 150 holes at over 80 locations in the metal revetments to create artificial nest sites and during our trip around the Washes Cliff got busy deepening the holes to get the right angle so that the Kingfishers can fly up from just above the water into the nest.

Our day finished, we drove back and Cliff joked that he is sometimes referred to as the wildlife property developer of the fens as so much of his time is spent constructing homes for wildlife.  It is more than likely that much of his wildlife home making will last for decades and will a great legacy for wildlife, which is more than can be said for the property developer of the decaying bungalows I passed on my way home.

Pete Johnstone.

 

 

 

 

PJ.elements have been awarded a small grant by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme to deliver Elements of the Landscape, a project to photograph people living and working in the Ouse Washes landscape and document their story through images. The people captured in the portraits will have a connection to the land or water, farming, biodiversity crafts or community life.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

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Little egrets and whooper swans in the distance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowdfunding Nature: Love a Duck campaign!

Duck End is a much loved nature reserve on the edge of Maulden in Bedfordshire. It has ponds, marshy areas, pollards and a wildflower meadow and home for lots of wildlife. The reserve is also the last remnant of Maulden Moor, where peat was cut for fuel in the 18th century, so it has wildlife and some history but walking around the reserve, especially in winter, is getting increasingly difficult as it can be a very wet place.

The Greensand Trust who manage the reserve want to replace the old boardwalk with a new one and will be running a crowdfunding campaign, called Love a Duck!  to help raise funds for the new boardwalk.

Crowdfunding will be used to replace the old boardwalk

Crowdfunding will be used to replace the old boardwalk.

I met Jon Balaam from the Greensand Trust on the day of filming the crowdfunding video who explained that the volunteers have really enjoyed preparing for the video and the crowdfunding idea and that the Trust hopes to be launching the campaign next week.

The crowdfunding video

The crowdfunding video

The Greensand Trust is one of a number conservation organisations who are taking part in Crowdfunding Nature a pilot project run by the East of England Biodiversity Forum to test the potential for crowdfunding to raise funds and profile for nature based projects.

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Watch out for the Love a Duck crowdfunding campaign coming soon!

Photo: Pete Johnstone

 

 

Crowdfunding Nature with Froglife

Project Update. Froglife’s campaign is now live – please support it if you can: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hoppy-families

 

At last the vision of Crowdfunding Nature is beginning to take shape. I spent a lovely morning with Cat Duerden from Froglife at their Boardwalks Local Nature Reserve in Peterborough as they filmed their pitch for their first venture into crowdfunding.

Cat explained: Froglife are planning to launch our exciting new crowdfunding campaign in early February to raise £3500 to create a ‘Hoppy Families’ Nature Trail. As part the campaign we want to encourage more people to visit the Boardwalks as although the reserve is free and easily accessible and close to the city centre, few people seem to know about this beautiful greenspace.

Getting the filming script right

Getting the filming script right.

Crowdfunding Nature is a pilot project being run by the East of England Biodiversity Forum with Natural England to test the effectiveness of crowdfunding to help raise the profile and funding for nature based activities in the East of England. Close behind Froglife are 6 other environmental groups working up their own crowdfunding project to be launched in the coming months.

The Crowdfunding Nature project initiated by PJ.elements with the help of CrowdfundUK is providing training and ongoing support for the environmental groups involved in the project.

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The Boardwalks Local Nature Reserve, Peterborough.

Crowdfunding has proved itself as an effective way of doing commerce in the business world yet I believe their are real opportunities for nature to benefit as well. We just need to get the right mix of people and projects together and inspire public to get involved. I am looking forward to the Froglife crowdfunding campaign coming out and seeing the video too – it is going to be fun!

I will be sure to blog the crowdfunding campaigns on this website and on Twitter as they go live – all help in promoting the campaigns once launched we be gratefully appreciated.

Pete Johnstone

PJ.elements

Photos: ©Pete Johnstone.

Main picture: Katie with video, Cat Duerden centre and Richard with Lionel the Frog.

PJ.elements awarded Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Community Heritage grant.

PJ.elements has been awarded a Community Heritage grant from the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to photograph people living and working in the landscape of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk fens.

Pete Johnstone the owner of PJ.elements said:

This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to being able to meet and photograph some of the people who live and work in the area and to try and tell their story. I am aiming to photograph farmers, people who are responsible for the water management of the Ouse Washes and those involved with local crafts in the area.

Mark Nokkert, project manager for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme said:

In awarding the grant we like the fact that Elements of the Landscape  will leave a photographic record of people living and working in the Ouse Washes.  We look increasingly to use images of the 1947 floods and earlier ones showing life and people living in past times, and so we  think that this project will  add an important  landscape-specific  contribution to an image library of  fenland life today. 

Pictured are Sara Marshall and Mark Nokkert of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team.

Photo by Pete Johnstone.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme (OWLP) is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

 

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A happy Christmas from PJ.elements !

And all best wishes for the New Year.

Please note our office will be closed from 19th December and open again on the 4 th January 2016.

 

Coastal Revival Fund (England)

The Government is inviting bids for a £3 million Coastal Revival Fund (CRF) which is funding to be Spent in 2015/16.

The CRF will support projects to help revive heritage assets that are important to local communities but not yet reached their full potential or are facing neglect. Grants will support communities looking to unlock the economic potential of those hard to tackle buildings,landscapes, facilities and amusements and sustain them in the long term.

Always please contact me if you require any help with the application.

Details: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coastal-revival-fund-bidding-prospectus-and-application-form

Closing date: 14th September 2015.

Photo  © Pete Johnstone

Environmental crowdfunding in Scotland

Well done to the charity greenspace scotland for having the initiative and for being brave enough to trial out environmental crowdfunding as a way of funding improvements to local green space in Scotland. With funding and support from Nesta’s Rethinking Parks programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund they have created their own bespoke crowdfunding platform for Scottish parks and greenspace. 

 The eventual success of MyParkScotland will no doubt lie in the hands of local communities coming up with the projects and finding the funds to make them happen themselves. However, could the wider UK (and even further afield?) parks and greenspace community give them a helping hand and  support them on their way by making a small donation online?  If we as a community can prove that environmental crowdfunding can work then friends of parks groups and greenspace organisations across the UK and elsewhere will learn and may gain from this success.

 

Julie Procter, CEO of greenspace scotland explains the background:

 

“With funding pressures, finding new and innovative ways to make the financing and management of parks and greenspace sustainable is vital to ensuring their future.  We need to make sure we maintain and keep our parks in good heart today and for the benefit of generations to come. MyParkScotland is our response to this challenge.

MyParkScotland provides a new way to raise funds for projects in parks today and to develop endowment funds to safeguard these national treasures for future generations.

Park users often told us they would like to be able to support their local park but there wasn’t an easy way to do this. That’s why we developed MyParkScotland as a safe and easy way for people to donate to support park improvement projects developed by Friends of Parks and other local groups.

What makes MyParkScotland different to many traditional crowdfunding platforms is that, as an independent Scottish charity, we are able to reclaim Gift Aid on most donations. This ‘extra funding’ is being used to build sustainability and endowment funds for Scotland’s parks. If there isn’t a current project in their favourite park, park lovers are also able to make donations through the website to a specific park or city park endowment fund.

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We’re pioneering the development of MyParkScotland in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the intention to extend across Scotland. We hope that MyParkScotland will make an important contribution to the future sustainability of our parks and will encourage people to think about using crowdfunding as part of the project funding mix.

We would be delighted if supporters of environmental crowdfunding would take a look at the MyParkScotland website – we’d love to hear your feedback – and you might like to make a small pledge to support one of the projects!”

 

MyParkScotland is the only Scottish project within Nesta’s Rethinking Parks programme and is funded by Nesta and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Rethinking Parks aims to support organisations to develop new approaches to sustaining and making the most of the UK’s parks.

 

Pete Johnstone is an advocate of environmental crowdfunding and his case study on the subject can be seen here

Images:  © greenspace scotland