Caring for Kent’s coast

PUBLISHED: 14:39 30 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:39 30 January 2016

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Botany Bay

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Lottery support has been granted for an exciting Kent-wide marine programme aimed at getting local people involved

An exciting £450,000 project to involve people in looking after Kent’s marine environment is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Guardians of the Deep project, a partnership between Kent Wildlife Trust, Thanet District Council, Medway Swale Estuary Partnership and Kent County Council, aims to involve local people in the protection and monitoring of Kent’s coastal wildlife and to get youngsters excited about marine wildlife through a programme of snorkelling activities and practical learning opportunities at coastal sites around the county.

Initial development funding of £64,000 has been awarded to help Kent Wildlife Trust progress its plans to apply for the full grant later this year. The project will offer local people training in marine wildlife identification and survey techniques and the chance to play an active role in safeguarding Kent’s natural coastal heritage. Schools will be able to get involved in a programme of activities at coastal sites, focusing on the value of the marine environment for people and for wildlife.

Key project activities

Coastal Guardians: setting up a network of groups of people to undertake regular marine activities and become the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Kent coast. Volunteers will receive training to help them to oversee a stretch of coastline near where they live and promote its wise use.

Wildbeach: getting schools and youth groups involved in activities at coastal locations over a period of several weeks. Young people get the opportunity to learn about marine wildlife, the coast and the importance of protecting the marine environment through a series of events, which also help to build self-esteem, self-confidence and teamwork.

Undersea explorer workshops: To teach young people snorkelling and water safety skills in swimming pools and, using submersible marine habitat props, to help them understand the importance and fragility of marine life.

Much of the Kent coast falls within a Marine-Protected Area, with features like Thanet’s chalk reefs of outstanding importance within the UK and internationally. Beneath the waves they are home to a diverse array of habitats and species including the tiny, very rare stalked jellyfish; colourful sea anemones; and industrious Ross worms. Above the waves, vast numbers of sea birds overwinter at Pegwell Bay and seals haul out on the sandbanks offshore from Margate.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we can offer Kent Wildlife Trust a development grant to get their plans under way. Kent’s marine environment includes a fascinating array of species and habitats, and we are pleased to be able to help get local people excited about their coastal heritage.”

Find out more

To find out more or to get involved in the project, please email fiona.white@kentwildlife.org.uk

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