Portuguese Environmental Agency, Cascais Natura visit RNRP projects on Green Infrastructure research trip
Cascais Natura, formed in January 2007, are a municipal Environmental Agency located in Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal. Their goal is to promote the preservation of Cascais' natural heritage, whilst improving the level of living in the county. It is also their aim to stimulate in the population and in the various social and economic agents, an awareness of the challenges of sustainability.
Green Infrastructure is a fairly new concept in Portugal, and two of the Cascais Natura Team, Project Managers Luís Almeida Capão and João Melo decided to spend a week in the UK to attend CABE's Park City Conference, and experience a number of GI projects to see the concept in practice.
RNRP Chief Executive, Michel Kerrou had also attended Park City. This two-day conference was sponsored by CABE and Natural England, the Government's advisors on urban design and the natural environment. The Agencies believe proper investment in green infrastructure is now critical to every development, every neighbourhood and every service, and that this idea is moving to the forefront of strategies and planning across regional and local government.
Other visits included the Kent Downs Nature Conservation sites and Woodland Trust projects in Grantham, Lincolnshire, to compare their management with those in Cascais, and to learn about opportunities for their development and integration into green infrastructure.
Their day with RNRP consisted of the following;
Tour of Summer Leys Nature Reserve
The reserve is an important refuge for wintering and breeding birds, including golden plover, lapwing, wigeon and shoveler.
The tour was led by Tom Day of the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust and Nicola Orchard from Natural England. They discussed the development of the nature reserve which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a pSPA (Specially Protected Area).
Local Farm visit
David Hutchinson, a local farm owner, talked about the restoration of lake habitats in order to attract more wetland birds. They then toured David's farm which is under the 'High Level Scheme' (HLS) followed by a visit to his offices to illustrate rural development from old farm buildings. Julian Key, Natural England's HLS Advisor for the Nene Valley also joined David on this visit.
The group then joined the RNRP Executive Team for lunch at the Castle in Wellingborough where RNRP had been holding a meeting during the morning to develop new ideas and schemes for the forthcoming year. Some of the team then accompanied Luís and João on their afternoon visits, which consisted of;
Tour of the Ise Valley at Kettering
Dr Robin Field, Revital-ISE Project Officer, led a tour of the water meadows, historic remnant of parkland and Scheduled Ancient Monument all next to the Grade II parkland at Wicksteed Park. For more information on future projects under Revital-ISE scheme, select here to download the Revital-ISE Project Plan (pdf 866Kb) >>>
Dave Mackay and Luke Johns, Stanwick Lakes Park Rangers, led a tour of this recreational and wildlife facility. The group toured the reed bed, new common bird feeding area and saw some of the conservation work carried out over the winter period around the lakes and by the bird hide. They also walked around the outside of the new Visitor Centre which has since opened (select here for a news article about its opening on the BBC News site >>>)
Green Infrastructure- an Overview
The day ended back at the RNRP offices where Michel Kerrou, RNRP Chief Executive spent some time discussing RNRP's experiences with Green Infrastructure and associated issues and opportunities, and answering Luís and João's questions.
The RNRP Team were extremely interested to learn about the projects Cascais Natura are working on and towards in Portugal, whilst comparing the challenges and opportunities presented by their local (stunning and richly diverse) environment. Equally, we hope Luís and João have taken plenty of food for thought and practical information back with them, and wish them great success with their ventures.
Please select the thumbnails to view pictures from the field day
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