Celebrating Biodiversity

Look up the word ‘Oxymoron’ in a dictionary and you will come up with a definition along the lines of: “A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect” and by this definition, the title of this week’s column could be said to be just such an oxymoron. One of the drawbacks of the word ‘Biodiversity’ is that it is such a cold, jargonistic word and to celebrate such a thing is a seemingly counter-intuitive prospect. However, if you substitute the word ‘Biodiversity’, for the word ‘Wildlife’, and you come up with a far easier proposition. I’m not sure whether it was felt that the W word had lost a bit of bite, or become too fluffy for everyone’s taste, but it would seem that biodiversity is the preferred word now. As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, it seems fitting that there are a number of exciting wildlife-themed projects in our area. And, because I never need an excuse to involve myself in projects to raise the profile of our local wildlife, I’ve helped in the development of a couple of local initiatives. From the collective stable of the Devon Biodiversity Partnership, a Devon-wide competition is now underway to find the best wildlife photo of the summer of 2010. We are very fortunate that an excellent website called Wild About Devon has agreed to host the competition and provide a central access point for people to find out about the competition. Devon County Council, the Devon Wildlife Trust and East Devon District Council have organised the competition and, most importantly, arranged for three money-can’t-buy prizes. The competition is open to amateur photographers and there are three categories; 5-11, 12-18 and adults. The prize for the youngest category will be a bird watching trip on the River Exe with the local ranger, I hear he’s rather good! The winner of the 12-18 category will be given a private tour of a closed Devon Wildlife Trust reserve accompanied by the Warden, for them and their family. The adult category winner will win a trip to Lundy Island, with a tour accompanied by the island Warden, along with three of their friends or family. Photos should aim to illustrate an aspect of the biodiversity found in Devon over the summer months and there are strict rules - so read them thoroughly! The competition opened on International Biodiversity Day, 22nd May, and closes on 30th September. The images will be judged by among others Nick Baker and Andrew Cooper and you’ve got from now until the end of the summer to submit the best photos which you feel reflect Devon’s enviable biodiversity. I’m also one of the judges, and I can’t wait to see the entries flood in! For more information about the project and to see the first entries online, visit www.wildaboutdevon.co.uk. Another project which I am helping get off the ground is an exhibition in Seaton, to celebrate the local wildlife and countryside in the Axe Valley. When the Countryside Service found out that the Tourist Information Centre was relocating, we came up with a suggested use of the building which would fit the situation. The area is in line for a major facelift in the coming months, which was why no one wanted to take on a short-term lease for the building, we proposed to use the building as a biodiversity exhibition, providing a wonderful space for local volunteers to engage with visitors and locals alike and give advice on accessing the local countryside, and being run by the District Council, as soon as we were told to get out, we couldn’t argue. We’ve decked the walls with panels explaining the wildlife of the coast, undersea, and estuary marshes, and have a rota of volunteers who are willing to open the exhibition three days a week and hopefully more people will come forward through the summer and allow us to open up on other days too. We’ll have a wildlife hotline for people to text or call with sightings from the local area, and the intention is to make this building a focal point for all things biodiverse between now and September, or whenever the building work starts. If you would be able to spare a few hours a week to help man the exhibition, the Countryside Service would love to hear from you on 01395 517557, there’s no expectation that you will be able to commit week-in week-out, although that would be great, but any time you can give to this venture would be hugely appreciated. We’re even throwing in training evenings, so there’s no need to be a seasoned ecology professional, we’re looking for enthusiasm first and foremost. So the linking strand here is one of celebration; recognising what we’ve got and making a justified fuss about it. And on that note, could I just say a big congratulations to my father, who’s horse won its first point-to-point on Bank Holiday Monday and led to considerable celebrating within the Chubb clan. Well done Dad!

posted on 02 July 2010 08:07 byJames Chubb

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