It’s vital to involve local residents from the beginning and throughout the process. As the studies show – both exposure to nature, and the opportunity to volunteer and get involved are beneficial. Getting residents involved at an early stage will also help to overcome any potential objections to the project.
Engagement is key for all types of green space improvement and retrofitting projects. Different types of engagement may be required to communicate with residents.
It’s really important to involve local residents from the beginning and throughout the process. Studies have shown that both exposure to nature, and the opportunity to get involved are beneficial. Getting residents on board at an early stage can also help to overcome any potential objections to the project. Keeping everyone informed will help to create a sense of community ownership over green space, vital for its long-term sustainability.
Different types of engagement are useful to work with residents
• Recording wildlife
One of the simplest ways to get residents involved is to get them to tell you what they have seen around the site and/or to submit records to local and national recording schemes.
• Information boards
Use signs to tell residents about wildlife on site, explain the benefits to biodiversity from management practices or the installation of wildlife features, and address potential concerns. Suppliers include Nature Sign Design.
• Newsletter / fliers
Volunteer residents could to help disseminate information through fliers and newsletters.
• Social media
Volunteer residents could help to disseminate information through social media. Local social media groups are a great way of enabling a wide array of people to participate in exploring wildlife, by sharing their pictures and asking questions.
Social media can support community social cohesion, like arranging events and getting people together.
• Local resident wildlife group
Engage with resident wildlife group, if one exists, or help support the set up.
• Monitoring success
Resident questionnaire surveys, feedback through local residents’ wildlife group
Examples of information for residents who want to get involved in green activities:
Advice and support for individuals or groups who want to become involved in organic gardening, including local community groups who want help to set up and run organic community gardens http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk.
Government’s adviser for the natural environment, helping protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and the services they provide.
Social Farms and Gardens
A UK-wide charity that supports communities to farm, garden and grow together. They offer a wealth of information, in-depth knowledge and advice for groups planning to start a community garden, with a comprehensive Resources Section: http://www.farmgarden.org.uk/resources.
Social Farms & Gardens are a partner in the Green Flag Awards Scheme, working with Keep Britain Tidy, and its respective organisations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk.
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) Green Gym
TCV created and runs Green Gyms across the UK and offers a number of ways for public sector organisations and local community groups to establish a Green Gym http://www.tcv.org.uk. They also have local volunteer groups who do practical tasks and they also publish practical guides on habitat management and sell trees for planting.
As part of the toolkit we have developed some examples of signposts that can be used for some commonly used biodiversity management options. These will be made available here in the future.