Thinking ahead

swans on wetland at Ash Levels

Last week saw Chloe, Paul and me studying a table-length spreadsheet that is Chloe’s to-do list for the rest of the year. She is leading some very exciting wetland work this year, in various parts of Kent.

digging a drainage channel
Digging a drainage channel for a scrape (a shallow wet area) to create new habitat for wetland birds

There is a huge amount to do and it will need to be carefully timetabled – we have to have everything ready to go in a that short space of time when wildlife is least active but the ground is not so wet that we sink any diggers we might be using.

shallow wetland pool
The scrape will look like this in winter
Bike with shopping basket decorated with crochet flowers
Lots of people cycle to work but no-one’s bike is as cool as Ruth’s

This has been a week of working on plans and strategies. The action plan for our One Planet Living work is nearly finished – we want to make sure that Kent Wildlife Trust is sustainable in all regards, not just for all the fab work we do for wildlife. We seem to be doing that faster than I can write the plan, it’s getting harder to come up with actions we are not already doing.

I have also been updating our Advocacy Plan – this helps us to keep the discussion focussed when we meet people who are able to influence what happens on a broad scale to the natural environment.

Tompot blenny in Dover to Folkstone Marine Conservation Zone
Tompot blenny in Dover to Folkstone Marine Conservation Zone

For example the three things we want to talk to politicians about at the moment are the Marine Protected Areas (we need more of them!), the fact that wildlife is still in trouble and needs help and that we have a plan for that, and just how important the natural environment is for people and society.


Meanwhile, our mantelpiece reef is growing! A prize for the first person to identify the crocheted creation with the green fringe, in the foreground.

more crochet coral reef



Marine matters

Goodwin Sands

Urticina-fel DahliaAnemone&Mussels2-GoodwinSands 31Aug05(BC-KWT)
Blue mussels and dahlia anemone on the seabed at Goodwin Sands (© Bryony Chapman)

Despite the recommendation that the area should be designated a Marine Conservation Zone, protected from damaging operations, plans are afoot to dredge up to 2.5 million cubic metres of sand and gravel from the Goodwin Sands. This will be used in the new Dover Western Docks Revival scheme. We will be commenting on the eventual application, but in advance of that, Bryony has been in communication with the ecological consultants to voice our concerns and discuss what we feel should be included in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

view of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
Meetings in remarkable rooms 5: Striking view from the Royal Haskoning meeting room, the first time I have been to a meeting in which they watched Big Ben to check the meeting was running on time.

We do not see how the removal of a huge amount of the sands for which the area was designated can fail to have a negative impact on the marine environment. Bryony and I went to a meeting at the Royal HaskoningDHV offices in London, to hear more about the work that has been done to assess the likely impact of the scheme on the underwater habitats. It is a huge challenge to survey the seabed in sufficient detail over such a large area, and to predict what will happen when this amount of sand and gravel is removed. The overview of the work was fascinating and it was useful to have the opportunity to  request that particular concerns were covered in the Environmental Impact Assessment. We will be scrutinising this in due course.

Marine Planning

As yet, there is no real coordination of the many activities happening at sea around the Kent coast. This is about to change, and I went to an event in Whitstable to find out more.

Whitstable Street, a shingle spit exposed at low tide © Bryony Chapman
Whitstable Street, a shingle spit exposed at low tide © Bryony Chapman

The new marine plans are intended to guide what happens in the marine area, making sure activities take place at the right time and in the right place, says the Marine Management Organisation. Their aim is to enable sustainable economic growth whilst protecting the environment, balancing the needs of all. The meeting was to get input from interested people and organisations to help shape the plan for the South East marine area, from Felixstowe to Folkestone.

Oyster at Whitstable Ostrea edulis
One of Whitstable’s famous oysters © Bryony Chapman

Although its overarching purpose is to enable sustainable growth, marine planning will provide us with a new way of influencing activity in the marine environment, providing advice and information to help identify where this could be best placed to avoid any damage.


Woolly Watery World

crochet coral reef beginnings
The embryonic crochet reef, with brittlestar, cockleshells and sea urchin

Staying with the marine theme, this week I press-ganged as many colleagues as possible to join a lunch-time session on crocheting a coral reef. Several years ago, at an event, a very interesting lady told me about the Crochet Coral Reef project.

This is a worldwide project which raises awareness of the plight of marine wildlife by getting people together to create amazing reef structures using crochet. I’ve had this in the back of my mind ever since, and now that we are working on the Guardians of the Deep project, I wondered if it would fit with the  aims of that project, to involve people in understanding and looking after the marine environment.

So, on a rainy Easter afternoon, I persuaded my daughters that what they really wanted to do was to try crocheting or knitting some marine creatures, and took the results in to work to inspire colleagues to join in.  Guided by Ruth, the Trust’s Queen of Crochet, we are going to test whether we can convincingly render the intricacies of Kent’s marine biodiversity in wool.