BEE Project focuses on improving biodiversity at The Byes, Sidmouth

A GROUP of environmentally-minded people have started an exciting project to improve the Byes, Sidmouth, and secured a �50,000 lottery grant to help them.

Called the Byes Environmental Education Project - BEE Project – the aim is to bring biodiversity, improved usage of this large piece of parkland and an educational platform for learning, said Michael Horsnell.

He said there would be tree and hedge planting and other steps to help bring more wildlife for users of the Byes to enjoy.

Improved habitats would attract bees, bats, birds, butterflies, invertebrates and mammals.

“We were recently awarded a grant of �1,000 by Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund, and Groundwork UK, part of the Lottery Fund, has granted �50,000,” said Michael, who ran the former Kaieteur shop in Fore Street, Sidmouth.

He said the funding was particularly welcome when district council budgets were facing severe reductions.

“We have had letters of support from Sidmouth in Bloom, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, Sidmouth Hospitality Association, the Vision Group for Sidmouth and councillors.”

He added: “It is really good news. We are working with Mark Pollard, East Devon District Council’s parks development officer, to develop a plan with him and Charmouth landscape architect Aileen Schackell and the SVA.

“The next stage is to entice more volunteers to support the project and get the plans developed and try to implement the ideas we have.”

He said while trees and hedging were being used to help improve biodiversity, they would replace older varieties nearing the end of their life, or some that are diseased.

“The meadows and open parkland are to be enhanced and protected for both the local community and visitors to enjoy,” he added.

The BEE project is keen to hear from people who use the Byes and a questionnaire has been devised by organisers. If you do complete the questions below, please email your answers to or post to BEE Project, 6A King Charles Way, Sidmouth,EX10 9JX.

1. How many times on average do you use The Byes per year?

2. What is your main reason for using The Byes? EG: Dog walk, Route to town/ work, Cycle route, Recreation, Nature.

3. What are your favourite features /areas of The Byes as it stands at the moment?

4. Which are your favourite trees within The Byes?

5. When visiting other parkland areas which species of trees have impressed you the most?

6. How do you think the bio-diversity in The Byes could be improved?

7. How can The Byes be used to increase knowledge of local bio-diversity?

8. What improvements to The Byes would encourage the local community and visitors of Sidmouth to use it more?

9. With children and teenagers in mind, what improvements would encourage a school/college to use the space for outdoor education more than they currently do?

10. What connections to the history of the local area could The Byes display with plants i.e which plants could represent a historic event within Sidmouth, e.g. Queen Victoria’s visit/ famous poets/ famous families?

11. The River Sid lends its name to Sidmouth, Sidbury, Sidford and the Sid Valley and is central to The Byes. What protection could be given to the river banks to reduce erosion and improve bio-diversity?

12. What can you or your community group offer to this project to enhance The Byes?

13. Would you be interested in joining the Sid vale association (SVA) to help with conservation work within the byes?

14. If a celebrity were to headline the Launch of the BEE project who would you suggest?

15. Would you like to join a group ‘Friends of the Byes’ to help the SVA in their conservation work within the byes?


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*More information about the BEE project, which is helping to celebrate the International Year of Forests 2011, can be found at