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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.

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

Crowdfunding Nature underway

The Crowdfunding Nature initiative is now well under way with Froglife successfully raising over £3500 for their nature reserve project in Peterborough.

Three other campaigns are currently live and it would be great if you could support them;

They include
The Greensand Trust’s Love a duck:http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/love-a-duck/

The National Trusts Dormice project: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/giving-the-dormice-of-danbury-a-home/

And the Wildlife Trust BCN’s Great Fen Project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wildlifebcn/great-fen-great-fun

The East of England Biodiversity Forum with the support of Natural England is testing the effectiveness of crowdfunding to help raise the profile and funding for nature based activities in the East of England. The cost of maintaining and further improving sites of high nature conservation interest is significant.

These costs are further increased when public access, learning and education programmes are being encouraged on these sites. As funding from the more traditional sources is becoming more and more competitive crowdfunding is being looked at as a way of boosting funds for specific projects.

However, if the ‘crowd’ doesn’t pledge anything towards the projects then they won’t proceed. One project from Froglife has already been successful in raising £3500 for their nature reserve in Peterborough, 3 more projects have now gone live, some with only a couple of weeks left to raise the funds.

PS. All the video’s are worth watching – great fun was had by all!

A new Technical Note on Crowdfunding from the Landscape Institute.

Pete Johnstone from the environmental consultancy PJ.elements was recently commissioned by the Landscape Institute to write a Technical Note on Crowdfunding for members of the Institute.

Simon Odell, Head of the Landscape institute’s Technical and Professional Services said ‘’The principle of the church spire appeal has been with us for many years, but crowdfunding in its current form is a relatively new digital method of fundraising and offers real opportunities for our members struggling on behalf of local communities on local greenspace projects to achieve a critical mass of funding in this times of public sector cuts.

But conceptually I am also interested in its potential to be a mechanism for delivering payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, which have yet to be fully realised.

We choose Pete to write the Technical Note for his tremendous background experience with the body now called Natural England coupled with a clear expertise in environmental crowdfunding.  In fact I haven’t encountered anyone who knows more about the subject area than he has.’’

The use of crowdfunding as a way of raising funds and profile is a proven business technique which is now being taken up by not for profit organisations in their drive to find new ways of raising funds. It is not going to work for every project and other fundraising methods may well be more appropriate. On large projects of, say £10,000 or more it may worthwhile combining different techniques to reach your goal. Though be warned crowdfunding is not the easy option – even to raise a modest amount of money takes time and commitment!

Crowdfunding only works where the public is inspired enough to make a pledge. If not enough people are inspired then the project is not funded.

Pete has written a case study on environmental crowdfunding which can be viewed here.

Pete is an Affiliate member of the Landscape Institute.   For more information on the work of the Landscape Institute visit http://www.landscapeinstitute.co.uk/

 

Nb.If your organisation would like help with developing a crowdfunding strategy or project please contact pete.johnstone@pjelements.co.uk