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1st Derbyshire BioBlitz and Springwatch Wild Day Out 2010 at Markeaton Park, to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. A summary report.

The event on 5/6 June was supported by funding from BBC Learning, Derby City Council, University of Derby and Natural England. I hope that everyone will join me in thanking the sponsors who not only gave money but actively participated fully in the delivery of a pretty elaborate but successful event.

*Thanks go to University of Derby who put together the Big Screen film, provided the PA and coordination of the film on the day and for their Volunteer Ambassadors who did everything.

* Thanks to the BBC for the media material but to Helen and Karen who ran around all day interviewing, scheduling and producing visual material. Radio Derby were continued support lifting the event when it mattered. We all gained value from their input.

* Thanks to Natural England for providing on every request that was made to them to make this event and the schools BioBlitz possible.

So what did we achieve?

1. 641 wildlife species found and named in 24 hours (target 500)

2. A new County Wildlife Record for Derbyshire.

3. Nearly 2000 people helping BioBlitz or learning about  our work on the day, and even more people listening to radio or seeing it on television.

4. Raising of a new profile for Markeaton Park, and support for the Friends of Markeaton Park and their work.

5. Contact with 9 local schools and support for their curriculum studies, engaging with 380 local children.

6. A new connection between very knowledgeable specialists and others new to wildlife, providing a positive result for biodiversity.

7. 25 different wildlife and countryside groups working together covering a wide range of similar interests.

8. 10 different guided walks to look for wildlife for 290 interested people.

9. Links to Paris, France where we hope to support the first European BioBlitz in the future.

10. Benefit for wildlife and people in Derbyshire.

How did we do it?

1. We set the challenge and invited everyone to join us.

2. We chose the site, an urban wildlife site, large in size and scope, well known, popular, a car park and including local educational establishments.

3. We linked with Springwatch to help us with the publicity of the concept and delivery of the event at Markeaton park.

4. We joined with the National BioBlitz consortium and used their support (publicity and resources).

5. We found funders.

6. We found wildlife specialists.

7. We included a free, family wildlife fun day to extend the range of interest in wildlife.

8. We offered it to the media to share it with others.

What made it difficult for us?

1. The morning rain

2. A lack of media on site to entice Markeaton park regulars. As a City Council event, I had needed 2 weeks of leaflet pushing, but I didn’t have time! Sorry.

3. Needed more on-site Family Guides and wildlife surveying equipment on the day, both at the information point and on the Guided walks, to get more people of all abilities in and around the Park looking for new wildlife.

What was good?

1. The media before the event, at the event and after the event, allowed for all of us to feel we had achieved a great deal for wildlife and countryside in Derbyshire, and beyond. The PA in the morning was excellent and in the afternoon (Radio Derby) continued to give the event a professional feel. It was great for everyone to talk on Radio in the morning.

2. The range of stalls, free products, activities, interests (including the smoothie bike), wildlife groups and countryside was an excellent mix that worked with lots of different people and their interests.

3. The guided walks, advertised well in advance of the event, provided key focus points over the 2 days. They allowed the programme to have momentum. They also provided a number of key records.

4. The Wildlife Information Point or BioBlitz Hub was an essential part of the site where we checked records (verification), provide a library of wildlife information and survey kit, handed out and took survey sheets. This point linked directly with data Recorders and Family Guides. Separate from the stalls it provided a key BioBlitz focus point. The Guided walks started from here. The Info point was manned by Wildlife Specialists and close to the DaNES marquee.

5. Family Guides were appointed volunteers either pointing out routes to take on the map or taking families on a hunt somewhere in the park. They instigated more records for novices. This was popular, booked/timed and didn’t require too much leadership expertise but many wildlife samples came back to our experts. They successfully ensured people were always moving away to other parts of the site, ensuring visitor flow. Family Guides and survey equipment could also be delivered by stall holders to help the Info Point if we requested it.

6. Recorders were helpers who linked between the family guides, the Wildlife Specialists and the Map Mate Hub. All the records were entered onto Map Mate in order to collate a true record and to prevent doubling of records. Producing an excel spread sheet at the same time would be advisable at future events.

7. The free Family fun wildlife Hub was formed under a large star tent forming the focus for many activities such as face painting, frog lodge making, mosaic and nature book making. This was a very busy part of the site.

8. Free refreshments, official toilets and a space away from the site for officials and stall holders was well received and not expensive. Particularly for 24 hour persons!

9. Stewards were essential at Markeaton Park because it is a very busy site. They were also essential for site location, guided walks, site protection and parking. We provided First aid and mobile toilets.

10. The Survey sheet was very well received. It included a map, grid reference details and short simple steps towards how to sample.

Negative responses:

1. Didn’t know about the event.

2. Thought we would see everything! (we didn’t promote a wildlife zoo!)

3. Signage across the Park poor.

4. Thought it was 2 days.

Positive responses:

1. Very well organised and a good BioBlitz

2. Very professional delivery.

3. Lots to do and to get involved with.

4. Sharing positive support and from France

5. Good to see many more people actually involved in the activites at the event and friendlier than Alexander Palace!

6. A large number of specialists and identification of species

Beverley Rhodes

WildDerby Derby City Council.  

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Beverley Rhodes,

WildDerby; Derby City Council. ©

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