Custodian Pilot given the green light

The DVLP are pleased to announce the success of a recent joint funding bid, working with Natural England (NE) and Volunteer Action Barnsley (VAB).

The partnership project was successful in obtaining funding from the NE Innovation Fund to develop and pilot a model for establishing a new sustainable way to engage communities in the management of greenspaces in the Dearne Valley.

West Haigh woods in Great Houghton, Barnsley has been selected as the pilot site for the 6 month trial.

West Haigh Woods

The project will instead set up a ‘Custodian Group’ for the site that does not follow the traditional ‘Friends of’ style but will undertake a more community focused approach. The Custodian Group approach is targeted to work with these communities, give them support, and guidance and supply transferable skills that will enable the local communities to manage their local wildlife sites and improve the skills of the individuals. The project will enable the local communities to develop a sense of ownership though volunteering.

A custodian group will develop the skills to carry out management and scientific monitoring tasks that are needed on the site in partnership with Voluntary Action Barnsley, the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, the local authority and others. The key will be to develop a flexible approach, a core set of skill sets will be identified that can be adapted to different sites and communities. There will be a full written evaluation report at the end of the pilot (March 2016) along with a new Conservation Management Plan with a community focus, to see if it is a feasible and transferable model to try out on other sites in the future.

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