Strengthening partnerships and sharing resources
Gemma Wren, Countryside Manager for South East Cumbria & Morecambe Bay, talks us through local partnerships, the importance of volunteers and funding the future of the area.
Morecambe Bay is a complex area with a huge variety of properties across the coast, woodlands and historic parkland. While I’m based at Silverdale, I have a team of eight rangers who are all geographically dispersed across our other offices in the area, so we’re on the move quite a lot!
I’ve been here for just under two years now, having previously worked in the Yorkshire region for six years. When I first started working in conservation, a lot of my work was around local nature reserves and specialising in species and habitat management. My role is much more strategic now so I’m not able to get out on site visits as often as I’d like, but with winter coming which is generally our busiest time of year on the ground I will try and get out on the ground as much as I can with staff and volunteers.
A really important part of my role is focusing on the work we do with other organisations which include the RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Morecambe Bay Local Nature Partnership. It’s great to regularly get together to strengthen these partnerships, and it means we’re able to share resources, issues and ongoing plans for the area, as well as discussing how to obtain funding on a wider scale.
Funding forms a huge part of our work in the area, as it enables us to run a range of exciting community projects. Most recently we received funding from the Neptune Coastline Campaign for a brand new ice cream hut at Sandscale Haws, to be designed by the local community. So at the moment, the team is focused on building links with local community groups to get as many people involved as possible.
We also run a lot of guided walks here at Morecambe Bay, where visitors can come and enjoy the abundant wildlife on offer. These are all very informal and tailored to our visitors; we’ve found the most popular events to be those that are more interactive, where people can really get their hands dirty!
Another area we’re really focused on internally at the moment is getting more of our volunteers involved in surveying work. So this year we made it a priority to organise some surveying training days, as these are a great way to bring people together and teach new skills at the same time. We are incredibly lucky to have such fantastic volunteer groups here in Morecambe Bay. We’ve got a lot of ambition for this area, and they are vital in helping to build the foundations of our future.