Helping local communities discover and protect the coastal environment
The organisation: The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust delivers long term programmes designed to: counter biodiversity loss; provide solutions to the many challenges facing wildlife and the environment and; engage all sectors of the community in the natural world. The organisation delivers practical conservation actions on the ground in the Tees Valley. Its charitable objectives are: to conserve the wildlife and geological interests of the Tees Valley; to increase awareness and understanding of wildlife conservation; to establish and manage nature reserves and; to promote the principles and practice of sustainable development.
Work is delivered through projects on the Trust's nature reserves and in the varied natural green spaces and coastal areas across the Tees Valley. Funding for the Trust's work comes from project grants such as Sofia's, conservation land management and education services and donations from Trust membership.
The initiative: The coast between Teesmouth and Saltburn is one of the richest wildlife habitats in the Tees Valley but is under threat from climate change, industrial activity and recreational pressure. This project will harness the public’s love for this coast by facilitating a wide range of learning and volunteering opportunities to support and protect its vulnerable wildlife and natural environments. The grant will support a Wilder Coast Project Officer, who will deliver a series of activities and events for local communities (particularly from Redcar, Marske and New Marske), helping them to discover the wildlife of the sandy and rocky shore habitats, the coastal dune systems and the marine environment. For example:
- Beach clean-up events - Beach litter represents a major hazard to marine and coastal wildlife and in damaging to people and tourism. Surveys of the waste collected will link to the work of the Marine Conservation Society nationally and can be used to address the sources of waste. Results will also be shared with local agencies including the Port Authority, Marine Management Organisation and the local councils.
- Beach habitat days - These will be delivered as educational activities looking at wildlife rich coastal features such as the Majuba Road and South Gare dune systems and the nationally important Redcar Rocks. Alongside the discovery of these rich habitats, the activities will promote messages about personal commitments and the behaviours which impact these environments including water use, waste disposal and sustainable seafood.
- Cetacean surveying team development - A team of cetacean (whale and dolphin) surveyors will be created to teach about these remarkable creatures which are visiting the North East coast in increasing numbers. The team will contribute to North Sea cetacean recording schemes which gather critical data for whale and dolphin conservation.
- Ambassadors programme - The fund will also support the development of this programme to teach about the critical coastal and wading bird species which use the Redcar and Marske beaches for winter feeding and summer nesting. These birds are extremely sensitive to disturbance, particularly by dogwalkers and while simple behaviour changes can address this, the message is best promoted by dogwalkers themselves.
The activities provided under the programme will be open to everyone, but attention will be given to ensure they are accessible to people from hard-to-reach sectors and people with special needs. There will also be bespoke activities supporting mental health and well-being to ensure that they are inclusive and provide a wide range of benefits to those who take part.