Welcome to the Balsam Blog, home in the internet world of the Falkland Islands Protected Areas Project.

I'll be using this blog to let people know what I've been up to and to share bits of useful information I pick up along the way. My project is subtitled 'Co-operative management of biological diversity', so that means you. The project will need your knowledge, concerns and hopes for the future to drive it along, so do contribute.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Protected Areas Designations Workshop

Nick gets creative...No, don't like that.....but how about this?
A couple of weeks ago, there was a workshop in Stanley to discuss options for making our system of Protected Areas more appropriate to our needs.
At the moment, we have National Nature Reserves, the means to create National Parks (although we haven't actually got any yet), and some non- statutory scientific designations such as Important Plant Areas and Important Bird Areas.
The workshop was open to the PA Project Steering Group, some other experts and policy makers that I thought needed to know what was going on, and any landowner who wanted to attend. I was really pleased that quite a few landowners did come as this issue has the potential to affect them most of all, and we need to find solutions that are broadly acceptable to everyone.
The main issues being chewed over were:
  1. Should the current NNR designation be subdivided so that it reflects the different uses and management of protected areas? If so, how?
  2. Is there any way we can provide more protection to the most special places and habitats without necessarily applying a full-on legal designation?
I haven't finished analysing and writing up the results of the discussions yet, but a few patterns have emerged from discussion 2:
  • We were broadly agreeable to producing a map of the best places for wildlife, and protecting them from develoment that might harm them through planning regulations and policy (as long as it doesn't affect traditional small scale activities)
  • We didn't like the idea of any kind of monitoring!
  • We all wanted more support and guidance in how to manage these special places for wildlife
The issue of public access provoked strong feelings both ways. Landowners were generally not in favour of automatic access to these sites for the general public. I don't want to pre-empt my final recommendations, but at the moment I can't see any reason at all to change to the current arrangements for access. All of our discussions pointed to co-operation and agreement as being the way forward, and forcing a change in this area doesn't seem to deliver the best outcomes for wildlife or the community.
I'd like to hear anyone's views on this subject. I don't name individuals in reports, but I do listen and make sure everyone gets a fair hearing.
Paul shows Jan his 'bottom line'

I'd like to thank everyone for giving up their day and working so hard. Special thanks to Nick Rendell for setting the scene, and Jo Tanner for sharing her experiences of Landcare. Also to Helen for doing the washing-up afterwards!.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

I'm back!

Hi everyone,

Sorry I seemed to drop off the face of the earth there for a while. I was away at RBG Kew for a couple of months doing some training, and have been flat out with consultation meetings and other similar activities since then.
I'll try to catch up in the next week or two and let you know what I've been up to.

One thing I'm working on right now is a plan to open up a new nature reserve, Chartres Horse Paddock on West Falkland, owned by Bill Luxton, to sustainable public access. I've been wrestling with management planning, interpretation plans and so on, and a funding application to the Environmental Studies Budget (fingers crossed for that). All quite dry and difficult.
So I was pleased to get some nice mail today; a Trails Toolbox and Happy Families Toolkit that I ordered from Kate Measures. I met Kate at Kew, and I want to give her a plug as she is full of excellent down- to- earth advice and support for anyone wanting to develop interpretation at any kind of visitor attraction. (Alternatively, you can ask her consultancy firm to do it for you!) http://www.katemeasures.co.uk/home

I hope to be able to pick up some tips to help Bill develop something really great at Chartres Horse Paddock . I'll be looking for volunteers to act as guinea pigs later on this season.