Cathy's Blog: Now that winter is becoming spring
Now that winter is becoming spring (after an icy blast cooled things off again!) we start noticing subtle changes – snowdrops, lambs, buds and another changeover of migratory birds… and in the AONB office there is a different subtle sign that I’ll call ‘Must Before’. This is our flurry of activities that ‘must be finished before the end of winter’ or ‘must be done before spring starts’…
Emma, Neil and Alex – supported by our volunteer placements Sam and Danny – have the ‘Must Before’, best done at this time of year, of delivering trees for community Scattered Orchard planting in both AONBs and planting River Stour 500 Trees, delivering and planting bulbs and shrubs for Pollinator Patches. Work parties have concentrated on scrub clearance and woodland management (other tasks on Tues 21 Feb and Sun 12 March anyone?), another essential ‘Must Before’ birds start nesting.
In my more office based work, the ‘Must Before’ is about redoing and replenishing our AONB newspapers and guides before people (the slightly less hardy ones, anyway) want to be outside more… before Easter holidays or visitors arrive in greater numbers. It is a time of planning ahead to make sure that events and projects will run smoothly. I was at a very well attended Shotley Peninsular Tourism Action Group meeting this week where all the talk was about the Arthur Ransome anniversary events, especially in May & June, to celebrate ‘We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea’ (80 years), the Nancy Blackett Trust (20 years) and Arthur Ransomes death (50 years) – lots of ‘Must Before’ conversations going on about preparations!
My other ‘Must Before’ work is around our grant funding. Projects in progress with 2016-17 grants have to finish before the end of March, and new projects will come forward with their applications for 2017-18 grants before 23 February (SDF) or 1 March (GWFF, AAF). Please get in touch with me if you have a conservation or enhancement project in either AONB we may be able to fund.
All in all, we and our communities deliver very varied work, and I’m happier in the knowledge that the real recipient, Nature, benefits from us all working together!
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times February 2017