Q3: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING, TO DATE, TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE?
It is recognised that natural climate solutions, such as coastal restoration, have the potential to make a significant contribution towards stabilising global temperature, so this project aims to have a direct impact on climate change.
The project also aims to change hearts and minds, raising environmental awareness in the community and thus reducing the collective carbon footprint.
Since 2011 we have been publishing and distributing, both electronically and in print, a number of documents (See Appendix III) communicating our research and encouraging a public conversation around the issues, with hard data and evidence informing any emerging conclusions.
Our awareness-raising programme is having a significant impact on the local community, raising interest in the issues, and helping people let go of traditional notions of a Victorian style “amenity” beach in favour of an emerging, natural dune system appropriate for the 21st Century.
We view the promotion of learning about the local environment to be a gateway to wider environmental awareness, which will in turn reduce the community’s carbon footprint.
To inform our research we have used ground based and drone photography, beach profile charts, beach volume analyses, normal density vegetation indexes and are in the process of starting regular botanical survey work conducted by a botanist and chartered environmentalist.
We have also been developing our project based on advice and information from a network of professional and academic advisers.
Collating this information and presenting it in an easy to understand format has been our key strategy so far.
A public meeting in 2015, with guest expert speakers was attended by about 160 people. It was clear at that time the majority of people in the audience were in favour of continued spraying of glyphosate and saltmarsh / dune suppression.
A public meeting in September 2019, attended by 120 people, resulted in the majority of those present showing clear interest in an alternative approach, warming to the emergence of a dune system, once they had seen the evidence and heard a full and clear demonstration of the reasons for vegetation establishing on the beach as the pioneer stage of a dune formation process.
From activities such as these we are recording a clear shift in the public mood, reflecting a wider societal environmental awareness. However the local community awareness raising process relating to the beach remains challenging, since the current “state” of the beach appears “unattractive” to many at a superficial level.
Wirral Council and Natural England’s licensing of past beach management has sought to retain and promise vegetation-free “golden sands” amenity beach in response to public and political pressure and key opportunities to change attitudes have been missed.