The aim of this project was to work with individuals, schools and groups within the vicinity of Barnham Cross Common in Thetford to engage them with the onsite conservation management work being conducted by Plantlife. Suffolk Wildlife Trust delivered the project to provide local people with a range of knowledge and skills in conservation identification and management.
20 workshops were run for three schools and a youth group which were all located within a mile of the common. None of the teachers had previously used the common for learning before and so this has opened up new opportunities for them. 562 children learned about the habitats of the common, including it’s microhabitats, exploring many life processes and the importance of the conservation work being carried out.
5 community monitoring events were carried out and timed to enable the data to be gathered that provided an understanding of the impact of the conservation work.All participants were provided with a Breckland Flora Guide by Plantlife to assist them with continuing to undertake monitoring work in the future.
One participant returned to the common to undertake their own survey and discovered thousands of tower mustard plants in an area of the common where conservation work had been carried out and has continued to support other keen participants.
A teacher training day was one of the original outputs but even with heavy promotion, no interest was shown and the event was cancelled. The overall funding for the project was reduced and the project was delivered £1,268 under budget.
The monitoring programme set up under the BNG has been very positive on a number of counts. Wider recording and training sessions have also generated significant records such as the re-finding of purple-stemmed cat's-tail on the site for the first time since 2007 and wall bedstraw since 1925.
7 photography day courses were run by a photographic tutor and a wildlife expert, enabling the courses to have a real focus of wildlife and enable discoveries to be made. The feedback from these events was hugely positive with participants acknowledging how the courses had highlighted the diversity in local flora and fauna and how excellent the tutoring has been throughout the day to support individual needs. Participants set up a Pinterest Group to continue to share their photos on-line and identify more species.
The Mayor of Thetford attended a community event on the common, bringing publicity to the project. Relationships have been built with Thetford Town Council, improving their knowledge of the rare flora on the common, helping to inform management decisions into the future.
Tim Pankhurst from Plantlife said "The monitoring programme set up under the BNG has been very positive on a number of counts. Wider recording and training sessions have also generated significant records such as the re-finding of purple-stemmed cat’s-tail on the site for the first time since 2007 and wall bedstraw since 1925."
"When we finally managed to persuade the local schools to visit it resulted in excellent feedback. It was clear that the children loved the experience of getting out onto the Common and the youth group particularly enjoyed it and were happy to make repeat visits." Deborah Key, Suffolk Wildlife Trust
School Teacher, Diamond Academy