Nature And Wildlife
Nature and wildlife thrives throughout Birmingham, not just on sites like Sutton Park, that is a National Nature Reserve, but also on the 10 Local Nature Reserves, the 156 other locally designated nature conservation sites and on other green spaces within the City.
Wildlife recording: become a biodiversity volunteer.
Birmingham City Council Ranger Service offers opportunities to record and monitor wildlife within the City. In particular you can contribute to breeding bird surveys, wintering bird surveys on pools, movement and bird ringing studies, and recording/monitoring protected species such as black redstart and peregrine.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer or working with the Parks ranger service please follow this link and complete our on-line form (If the site you're interested in is not included in the drop down list please choose the nearest and include further detail in the free text box).
The OPAL Project
The OPAL project is a Lottery Funded Research and Public Engagement Project that is being run by Birmingham University in Partnership with the Parks Service over a 5 year period. It involves:
a) Public engagement: this facilitates public involvement and visits to Parks sites, part of the Ranger services stated aim of ‘Connecting people with Nature’. It provides additional resource to that provided by the Ranger service and enables outreach to groups and audiences not widely reached.
b) Species recording: the recording of wildlife regularly within Parks sites is a fundamental requirement of the NERC Act, where such partnership approaches are demonstrated as best practice and production of Management and Green Flag plans, where the gathering of biological records for sites and voluntary sector engagement are requirements
c) Research: the programme is funding 3 research posts, based at the University that are investigating ecological functionality and connectivity throughout Birmingham. This is fundamental research that will provide a large volume of biological data related to Parks owned sites and the processes and dynamics of these sites and the wildlife populations within them. In particular, there has been extensive support for the bird research programme involving co-ordination of large numbers of volunteers in recording birds (this is ongoing and being developed further throughout 2011/12.
Higher Level Stewardship
Higher Level Stewardship is an agri-environmental grant scheme that aims to deliver significant environmental benefits in areas that are of high biodiversity value. It involves complex environmental management requiring support and advice from Natural England advisers, and provides funding for key management work over a 10 year period. The parks Service have successfully secured £1 million for Sutton Park National Nature Reserve to enable management of the heathland and grazing herds within the Park. This year extensive habitat management work, mainly involving birch removal, has been undertaken by the Parks Woodland Team.
This year we have achieved outline approval for the Higher Level Stewardship scheme at the Lickey Hills and we are aiming to develop a scheme that will take in all other eligible areas of land controlled by Parks.
Local Biodiversity Action Plan
This year the Parks Service signed up to the revised Birmingham and Black Country Biodiversity Action Plan, as a key member of the Partnership.
Since the publication of the first Biodiversity Action Plan for Birmingham and The Black Country (2000) there has been a significant update to the legislation, guidance and mechanisms for supporting biodiversity and actions to help prevent its decline. Each section deals with elements of biodiversity conservation and management, beginning with the importance of why biodiversity should be integrated into planning policies and the strategic direction for Birmingham and the Black Country in order to enable the area to continue in its prosperity and maintain a healthy population.
The strategic nature of this plan will enable Parks, to embed biodiversity within our structures and management plans and provide justification for policies and actions. It will influence and guide habitat management and shape certain Parks regeneration projects and grounds maintenance operations.
National Indicator 197
National Indicator 197 is a National Government measure of how the Local Authority performs, in delivering positive conservation management of locally designated nature conservation sites (both Privately owned and Birmingham City Council). This can range from managing woodlands to ensure regeneration, preventing colonisation of heathlands and traditional grazing and hay cutting of meadows. Birmingham Parks control the management of 83 locally designated sites, and score very highly, in delivering the vast majority of these sites into positive management. In 2011, 91% of Parks controlled sites were in positive management, often involving local community groups and volunteers in partnership with the Ranger Service. We have an improvement programme aiming at 100% of Parks Controlled ‘Local sites’ in positive management by 2014.