A forum for Kent coastal wardens has celebrated the first year of The Guardians of the Deep project.
The scheme is a partnership between Thanet council (Thanet Coast Project), Medway Swale Estuary Partnership, Natural England, Kent County Council and led by Kent Wildlife Trust. It has support from the Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of £446,100 to run a three- year project from 2017- 2019.
The project aims to involve local communities, businesses and visitors by raising awareness of marine habitats and promoting active and ongoing guardianship to protect Kent’s coastal and marine wildlife for the future.
Almost the entire Kent coast falls within a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Kent has six Marine Conservation Zones and the possibility of five more by 2018. Kent’s marine habitats are considered at threat from unsustainable and damaging fishing practices, invasive species, pollutants and increasing levels of recreational disturbance.
The project is aimed specifically at three stretches of coastline including the Thanet Coast.One of three new project officers is based within the Thanet Coast Project and is also helping to develop new projects within the North East Kent Marine Protected Area – such as WildBeach and Undersea Explorers with local school groups.
At this month’s forum those involved with the project heard that in 2017, volunteer Coastal Wardens and new Guardians within the North East Kent Marine Protected Area (NEKMPA) donated a staggering 1,900 hours, equating to over £12,700 worth of work, in supporting marine conservation with the Thanet Coast Project.
Volunteers were involved in:
- 24 Coastal Warden training/events/activities
- 25 public events (1,055 participants)
- 1 summer exhibition (5,222 viewers)
- 949 activity surveys
- 83 incidents reported online
- 25 wildlife /stranding reports
- 43 new volunteers (Wardens/Guardians) trained
Cllr Lin Fairbrass, Thanet District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services said:“The council is responsible for looking after the wildlife and habitats of our natural coastline and we couldn’t do it without the fantastic support of Coastal Wardens and Guardian volunteers.
“Thanet is blessed with an array of international and national nature conservation designations and the team of volunteers are invaluable eyes, ears and hands helping to protect and monitor our coastal wildlife.
“The BBC’s Blue Planet has done a great job at raising awareness of marine life and the issues faced around the world’s oceans. If you are interested in looking after our coast and marine life, please go online to find out more about volunteering and the training you will receive.”
To apply to become a new Coastal Guardian/Warden:
Please complete the “Volunteer Registration Form” and return. There are at least 2 training courses a year, generally held in April/May and October.
Photos Thanet Coast Project