Field Visits in Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais
Kent 7th and 8th June and Nord-Pas de Calais 14th June 2011
To assist in achieving the cross border cooperation, exchange of knowledge, and joint development of methodology integral to the aims of the ARCH Project, field visits were arranged to various locations in each of the regions.
The first visit, in Kent, took place on 7th and 8th June, with the French delegation using the historic city of Canterbury as their base. The morning consisted of visits to two sites; Yockletts (ancient woodland with calcareous grassland clearings) and Parkgate Down (open calcareous grassland). At Parkgate Down the group were joined by Paul Losse who demonstrated his assessment tool of the condition of key natural habitats tool, before this was put into practice by the group. Members of the ARCH Project were also joined at these sites by a French television crew, whose report on the visit has resulted in interest from French school groups wishing to visit the featured locations. In the afternoon a presentation on the feasibility study on a Connectivity Index and its progress was given by the appointed consultant, after which the teams were given an opportunity to present their thoughts on the development of the tool.
For the second day in Kent, various locations within the Dungeness National Nature Reserve were visited. The ecology and both natural and human history of the area were explained, and the group was guided around many of the rare and diverse features of the site. The afternoon concluded with a debriefing session at which the teams were able to discuss what had been learnt from the two days’ visits, and asked questions regarding each region’s methodologies and attitudes towards conservation and habitat management.
On 14th June, a visit was made to sites in Nord-Pas de Calais. Kent’s field surveyors were met at the city hall in Merlimont by members of the French team, from where they made the short journey into the Réserve Biologique Domaniale de Merlimont, a site boasting diverse habitats of sand dunes and forest. The afternoon was spent at the Regional Natural Parc Caps et Marais d’Opale, where the group was guided around sites at Colembert (calcareous grasslands) and Ambleteuse (decalcified grasslands). As during the visits in Kent, information and ideas were exchanged on the methodologies being implemented in the project by each team, as well as habitat management and wider attitudes to biodiversity issues in the region.
Overall, it was agreed that these site visits were extremely beneficial to the project, allowing closer working together both across and within teams, and improving the coordination of project management, methodologies and knowledge. The wide range of sites visited demonstrated the great diversity of habitats across the regions, and each team was left with a greater understanding of the natural environments, as well as the wider social and political attitudes to conservation and habitat management, within which their cross border partners are working.