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People's Walk for Wildlife, 22nd Sept at Hyde Park, London

pic of wildlife enthusiasts gathering in Hyde Park in the rain, featuring Bud the giant hedgehog

GCER and fellow- GWT Evidence Team staff turned up at a very damp Hyde Park on 22nd September to join a huge march of a very wide range of wildlife supporters of all ages. Organized by Chris Packham, the march fulfilled the aim of bringing together often-disparate groups and individuals who are passionate about protecting wildlife. It was great to meet and talk to people who may have used and contributed to LERC information but whom we rarely encounter from day to day.

As the crowd gathered we watched big screens showing great live interviews with 'Ministers for wildlife', including some really clued-up and inspirational teenagers. Despite the damp the march swelled to over 10,000 according to police estimates, and at 1.00 we made colourful progress through the centre of London, accompanied by birdsong played from people's mobile phones.

At Whitehall opposite the entrance to Downing Street the march halted and we heard more talks, culminating in a rousing appeal from environmentalist George Monbiot. Our tube journey back to the station was shared with many people in owl, hare and fox masks, and we re-joined Bud the giant, foam hedgehog on the train home. Despite the size of the procession there was no BBC website coverage at all, but several national papers reported with good photos. The first, just an hour after the march, was an Independent article which also had a good interview with Chris Packam in which he mentioned the importance of wildlife data.

Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership

screengrab pic showing the new LNP website

Following the arrival of a new LNP Manager earlier this year (see news item below), a new LNP website - replacing the site formerly named Gloucestershire Biodiversity - has been set up. GCER will be playing a part in providing biodiversity information and website support. In particular we will be working on the development of ecological recovery networks throughout the county, building on earlier LNP involvement with Nature Improvement Areas and Strategic Nature Areas.

The LNP website is still at an early stage but already contains a lot of interesting links and information about the LNP, its partners and projects, and latest news. Click below to explore the site.

District-based Great Crested Newt licensing

pic of a male Great Crested Newt in breeding colours and crest

Early heads-up to consultants and developers: Gloucestershire is likely to join the existing South Midlands district-based licensing area for Great Crested Newts. The first stage after an in-principle agreement by Local Authorities is to collate information in order to calculate suitable zones for use with a district system.

Using the district-based scheme would be entirely voluntary. The main aims are to offer developers peace of mind and savings in time and money, whilst ensuring that the Great Crested Newt population gets the best habitat support from the funds available. Most interestingly from our point of view, the system involves a lot of survey and monitoring and potential new pond creation.

The existing scheme is managed by the Nature Space Partnership, which includes the South Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership. See here for information about areas already in the scheme.

Farewell to Andrew

Pic of Andrew Leach leaning against a tree at Woorgreens Nature Reserve, Dec 2017

More staff changes! Our longstanding Office Administrator, Andrew Leach (above), left us at the end of June for his well-earned retirement (and a holiday in Bavaria!). We owe Andrew a huge debt as he was the first official records centre staff member, entering thousands of records onto the then-cutting-edge Recorder 3 system. Our data management has been reliant on his expert local knowledge, meticulous filing and years of hard work. He will be much missed both in the GCER office and GWT as a whole (where he has both volunteered and worked in other capacities for over 25 years!). We wish him a long and happy retirement.

More Evidence Team changes are to come: we still have to replace our Key Wildlife Sites Officer and the GCER administrative work done by Andrew. A new post with a slightly different remit, ready for new challenges ahead, will be recruited with a view to starting work in Autumn. Watch this space and here for news of upcoming vacancies.

Bioblitz Blitz!

Long grass and lichen-covered gravestones at Bisley Rd Old Cemetery

People's enthusiasm for Bioblitzes continues to increase, with GCER getting involved with more events in 2018 than in any previous year. First up was Pittville Park Bioblitz in Cheltenham, from 9.30am on Friday 8th June to late on Saturday 9th. GCER was quite heavily involved as Rob spent many hours liaising with organisers and recorders and collating records. The turnout was moderate but a huge number of records were received; for more information and a summary of results see their website.

Not to be outdone, Stroud Town Council held a Bioblitz over the weekend of 23rd and 24th June, at the Bisley Road Old Cemetery (pictured above). GCER provided background maps and species lists. Several expert recorders turned up to explore the beautiful old cemetery, and the hot weather meant lots of good invertebrate records including one or two new ones. The eventual species tally was just over 500! Click here for more details.

The next GCER Bioblitz involvement will be at Sherborne Park, on the 26th July. There are other Bioblitzes in the region: for more uk-wide species-finding fun check out this useful calendar of Bioblitz events.

Staff update

Dr Gareth Parry, standing in a river

Following the retirement of GWT's longstanding Director of Policy and Research, Dr Colin Studholme, the new head of the Evidence Team - of which GCER forms a part - started work part of the time in April and took over fully in June. There's a reason for the gradual start to the new post: we are very pleased that GWT's previous Head of Community Programmes, Dr Gareth Parry (above) has taken over from Colin's conservation role and is now our Director of Conservation.

Twitter profile picture of Jackie Jobes, Gloucestershire's new Local Nature Partnership Manager

Colin's other role has also been filled: after much careful planning and marshalling of resources, a post of Local Nature Partnership Manager was recruited in spring and we were very pleased that Jackie Jobes (above/left) started the job in June.

Jackie has a 3-year contract, funded by the LNP partners, and is hosted by GWT - like GCER she will be part of the Evidence Team. GCER staff will be working closely with Jackie in order to keep the LNP updated with biodiversity data and to help with monitoring conservation priorities.

Farewell to Colin

Picture of Dr Colin Studholme whilst he surveys wetland habitat at Woorgreens reserve

We said a fond farewell to Colin this month, our longstanding Director of Policy and Research at GWT, who has headed up the Evidence Team since its instigation. After an exhausting round of sendoff parties, cakes, presentations and excuses for meals out, Colin's colleagues reluctantly let him leave for Norfolk at the end of March. He'll be much missed. We wish him a very happy retirement and lots of interesting botanising and birding in Norfolk.

Colin did so much for both GWT and the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership that he is likely to have two full-time replacements: both a new Director of Conservation for GWT and a LNP Manager to handle the increasing workload of taking forward the Conservation Priorities which Colin worked so hard to research and develop.

New data search charges from April 2018

example GIS output with watercourses highlighted

After 'freezing' our main hourly rate for a couple of years, increasing costs and inflation mean we now need to increase our search fees for the next financial year. We need to be self-supporting and the increases have been made according to the same principles applied by adjacent LERCs, who face similar issues. We will still endeavour to make our search fees as reasonable as possible.

See the Data searches page for more details and some examples of typical costs.

Robinswood Hill Office gossip

view of Robinswood Hill from Brookthorpe

After a rocky start to the year with most of the Robinswood Hill GWT and GCER staff suffering the now-famously bad colds prevalent everywhere, we have settled down to some serious spring-cleaning, pending renovations to the Robinswood Hill offices later this year. It won't be for a few months, but we are hoping to keep data search and other service disruptions to a minimum during any temporary moves.

The Trust's Director of Conservation, Colin Studholme - head of the Evidence Team of which GCER forms a part - is due to retire at the end of March, so we will see changes then as a new Director of Conservation takes over. Meanwhile, in between spring-cleaning and catching up after absences, we have been working on a new Development Plan for GCER. It includes a major database overhaul which we hope will result in faster, more flexible and more accessible data searches in future. Watch the News page for updates!

Happy New Year!

early hazel catkins

Happy New Year and all the best for 2018 from GCER to all our supporters, data users and colleagues!