The North West Coastal Forum has announced the winners of the 4th biennial North West Awards for Coastal Excellence (NW ACE 2016) – an award scheme recognising outstanding achievement in and contribution to the long-term management of our coast and near-shore marine environments.
The awards are independently judged and there are three award categories: Coastal Champion, Coastal Community Action and Coastal Best Practice. Coastal Best Practice has a number of sub-categories, allowing more than one project to win in this category.
The awards were presented on Wednesday, October 12, at The Atkinson, in Southport, as part of the North West’s biennial regional coastal conference which this year was held jointly with the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership.
Coastal Best Practice – Education and Skills 2016 Winner:
Sefton Council’s Natural Alternatives Team for the Crosby Nature Trail
Natural Alternatives is a social inclusion project, run by Sefton Council, for people with learning difficulties. The Natural Alternatives Team worked together to create a newly accessible nature area for members of the local community to enjoy. They ordered and cut the materials for a boardwalk and fencing, cleared invasive scrub from the site and installed the boardwalk and fence, creating a new, accessible amenity for the Crosby community and a haven for wildlife. The nature area is used as an educational resource by local schools and the Holiday Clubs which are led by Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership and supported by Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside staff.
The Natural Alternatives Team hosted an official opening in summer 2016 and members continue to be involved in site management. The Crosby Nature Trail project was funded as part of the Heritage Lottery Landscape Partnership Scheme.
The nomination stated “The project has given the Natural Alternatives team new knowledge and confidence and provided the community with a new site to enjoy and learn about the natural history of the Sefton coast”.
Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum said:
“This is a particularly nice project for this category. It might be small scale but it not only provides a new education resource for the local community which is being well used but the people carrying out the project developed new skills in joinery, construction and habitat management as well as learning more generally about nature. And they continue to learn about nature and habitat management as they are involved in the ongoing site management alongside Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside Team”.
Coastal Best Practice – Celebrating Coastal Culture and Heritage 2016 Winner:
Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership for ‘The Flock’
The Flock was a simple idea for a community art project which has spread its message to the other side of the world.
640 wooden wader templates were created by the Natural Alternatives team of Sefton Council (Natural Alternatives is a social inclusion scheme for people with learning difficulties). The birds were hand painted by members of the community at a series of workshops. People from all walks of life and all ages got involved; the youngest person participating was a toddler aged 21 months, and the oldest was 92.
The Flock was displayed on the shore at Crosby for World Wader Day 2015 to raise awareness of waders and the immense journeys they undertake and the importance of not disturbing the huge flocks resting on the shoreline during their migrations. They were also displayed on Ainsdale beach later in the year.
People were able to experience The Flock on many levels, viewing it as a colourful and original art installation, or learning about the real waders on the shore with SCLP. Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside and RSPB staff who were present with a wealth of information about the birds and telescopes to view the real thing.
People who had painted the birds could take them home after the display and so keeping the message of wader conservation fresh in participants’ minds.
The project meant that more people across Sefton’s communities understand the importance of the coast for the birds that use it during migration periods.
Tying the initial display of The Flock to World Wader Day ensured good media coverage through media such as Twitter, with responses from Columbia and Greenland, and the idea was picked up by New Zealand environmentalists who now have their own Flock which tours schools and communities in the islands.
Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum, said:
“A really simple idea but incredibly successful. The really nice thing about this project is the amount of community involvement and learning it created; from creating the wooden templates in the Natural Alternatives workshop to the wader sessions on the beach with the Sefton and RSPB teams. Sometimes simple is best and the testament to the value of this idea is its take up at the other side of the world”.