Ecology Officer needed for Royal Borough of Greenwich
Ecology Officer needed for Royal Borough of Greenwich
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has amazing green spaces, which have all been vital to our wellbeing particularly during lockdown but they are continually under threat. We urgently need a knowledgable champion, with in-depth understanding of the plants and animals at risk. Without a full time ecology officer there is no one able to form an overview of risk and plan a response season by season. The parks groups and wildlife volunteers do amazing work but really need a trained council officer to inform their efforts and co-ordinate action across the borough and with our neighbours.
As we head into what should have been COP 26 it is vital we address the climate issues facing all of us. It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes an important contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Consequently, conserving and sustainably managing biodiversity is critical to addressing climate change. The Royal Borough of Greenwich urgently needs, at the very minimum, one professional Ecology Officer to co-ordinate, advise and lead council teams and volunteers. It’s a vital role which needs specific up-to-date knowledge, skills and experience.
Without this officer our green spaces are constantly at risk and the biodiversity of the borough is being eroded. These green spaces are complicated microclimates and clean our air which is under threat from massive development, traffic and infrastructure projects. We need to protect the health of these spaces for our mental and physical wellbeing and the legacy we leave our children.
To learn more about some of the amazing green spaces in the borough have a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At2OFAzVAfo&feature=youtu.be
For the full detail of Greenwich Wildlife Advisory Group's suggestions please read their letter below:
Dear Danny Thorpe,
Re: Ecology Officer
We applaud you for declaring a climate emergency, and for your plans to address it.
It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes an important contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Consequently, conserving and sustainably managing biodiversity is critical to addressing climate change. Royal Borough of Greenwich urgently needs, at the very minimum, one professional Ecology Officer to co-ordinate, advise and lead Council teams and volunteers. It is a vital role which needs specific up-to-date knowledge, skills and experience. The role needs to be full time and consistent, made public and undertaken by a designated and named individual.
For these reasons we are sending again this letter on behalf of a substantial and growing number of local amenity groups in Greenwich.
The advantages for a full-time local officer were given by various parties as follows:
· An Ecology Officer would provide instant access to expert knowledge, guidance and advice. This would be useful to all Council departments and contractors, other organisations, residents and the public. It would reduce uncertainty about both land management and planning decisions and enable RBG to make decisions confidently and to publicly give reasons for those decisions based on science and conservation knowledge.
· A designated officer working with planning and environment teams would make sure that the Council’s statutory duties in regards to wildlife and nature conservation are managed knowledgably by the parks team.
· The input of an Ecology Officer would improve strategic plans for biodiversity which the Council will need to meet government requirements.
· It is more cost effective and efficient to have in-house expertise that develops better understanding of the borough's needs than employ expensive consultants.
· New evidence is coming out all the time about the important benefits of nature to physical and mental health – nature is good for us! An Ecology Officer would work with groups facilitating this by making connections between our green spaces, our community groups and our health services. This appointment would be an opportunity to make these connections part of the role for the better health of residents. There may be health funding in the future that also benefits green spaces.
· The Ecology Officer would help communicate the good things the Council is doing for wildlife and people, via social media and the local press, via new signage, or by arranging volunteer days, for example. They would effectively communicate what is happening but, just as importantly make sure we proudly celebrate our achievements as a borough.
· An Ecology Officer would provide advice to the Parks and Open Spaces department on management - this can save money through less intensive management, and encourage the valuable involvement of local people via community groups and charities.
· The Ecology Officer would be responsible for updating and implementing the Greenwich Local Biodiversity Action Plan to conserve important habitats and species. This is increasingly urgent as many of our most wonderful species are in catastrophic decline. With the right guidance, however, often these declines can be turned around – but we need to act now.
· The Ecology Officer would organise the recording of flora and fauna in the borough on a regular basis alongside volunteers to produce an up-to-date state of the natural environment report.
· The Ecology Officer would be responsible for undertaking specific projects to conserve, restore and enhance the borough's green spaces in liaison with other organisations, for example the London Wildlife Trust, Buglife, TCV, Groundwork, Froglife, Friends groups and volunteers. This is vital when budgets for parks are so low and also allows greater community involvement. The ecologist would be a key contact between the community of volunteers and local naturalists, which would help avoid misunderstandings to do with habitat management and would help use extensive local knowledge to inform plans for the benefit of all (saving time and money).
· A dedicated ecologist in Greenwich would have positive impact in co-ordinating activities with Lewisham on the management of Blackheath with its rare flora and invertebrate fauna. Most of it is in Lewisham and an Ecology Officer would help to enhance and support Lewisham Borough's proactive approach to ecology.
· The Ecology Officer would be responsible for communication about biodiversity action with the adjoining boroughs, so that there is some joined-up planning and consciousness with regard to anything that impacts upon wildlife, flora or the environment in general. The Southeast London Green Chain officer used to do some of this, but Greenwich made that post redundant about four years ago. For example important cross-borough initiatives such as 3 Rivers Clean Up and encouraging swifts and kingfishers.
· An Ecology Officer would make observations on planning applications, decision making and activities, monitoring both Council policy and practice to ensure it benefits biodiversity by providing specific local and environmental expertise.
· An Ecology Officer would attend and give advice to local amenity groups such as The Blackheath Joint Working Party and the borough's various Parks User Groups.
· An Ecology Officer would be named officer for the public or amenity groups to contact with concerns about biodiversity, habitat damage and wildlife crimes and liaise with police.
· An ecology Officer would co-ordinate with outside bodies that provide expertise such as Greenspace Information for Greater London. For example, to check on issues and data affecting climate change and wildlife in relation to new developments or record the data and positive effects of Greener Borough council initiatives.
We do hope that this time our proposal will be given urgent and serious consideration.
More and more organisations and local authorities are recognising the growing movement towards improving biodiversity and green spaces and this trend will only become stronger. We are sure that Royal Borough of Greenwich should be at the forefront of this forward-looking movement. Our borough has a wealth of green spaces and wonderful wildlife which actively need protecting and celebrating for the common good, the mental and physical well being of our residents both now and in the future, as well as for the intrinsic value of the flora and fauna in a world which has diminishing spaces for it.
Thank you very much for considering this.
Greenwich Wildlife Advisory Group
Greenwich Council please prioritise this role in your planning for the climate emergency. We would all be interested in conversations to find a way to fund this vital role.