Get involved in nature projects with the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group

Large Skipper butterfly, spotted on Soldier's Hill, Sidmouth. Picture: Charles Sinclair

Large Skipper butterfly, spotted on Soldier's Hill, Sidmouth. Picture: Charles Sinclair - Credit: Archant

If you’d like to get involved in helping to record and restore our wildlife, there are now projects galore happening in and around Sidmouth,

The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group presented several of these – from the almost-complete to the twinkle-in-the-eye – at a ‘Biodiversity Special’ session of the regular Café Scientifique earlier in the month.

First off was an introduction to plans to enhance the Ham, with Jan Strapp recounting how she’s working with Sidmouth in Bloom to bring in a richer abundance of plant life to what’s become a rather scrappy area.

Jon Ball of the Arboretum then showed attendees display boards for special themed sections at Connaught Gardens, based on our area’s geological periods, with the first focussing on the Cretaceous and its magnolias and palms, the first flowering plants to evolve. Future stages will showcase plants from the Jurassic and Triassic periods.

Next was Cllr Denise Bickley talking about how the council is working on the ‘Life on the Verge’ project and trying to manage roadside verges better, to help wild flowers and insects. Meanwhile, we can all do our bit and leave the grass verge in front of our house – perhaps with a small sign saying ‘Pardon the weeds, we’re feeding the bees!’

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Cllr Chris Lockyear outlined exciting plans to create new allotments, a community orchard and a biodiversity education area in the grounds of St John’s School. And finally, Charles Sinclair introduced the ‘Surveying the Sid Valley’ project, the idea being that first of all, wildlife needs to be recorded. And the first survey will be to take part in the national Big Butterfly Count, which started on Friday, July 17 and runs until Sunday, August 9, which, as Charles said, is easy to get involved in and provides valuable information to feed back into local records.

To finish, Jon Ball produced a very impressive digital GIS map of the Sid Valley, part of the Devon Biodiversity Action Plan – and which will be where all the survey information will be gathered, to see how the area’s wildlife can be protected and enhanced.

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If you’d like to get involved in any of these projects, contact the Biodiversity Group at


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