Monday the 11th of May marked the 9th quarterly Kingston Biodiversity Network meeting, held within the newly built Kingston Quakers Centre, a beautiful building with fantastic green credentials including a wildlife garden and bat boxes. The meeting again was well attended with over 30 people showing up to hear about local biodiveristy updates, activities and issues.

 

Proceedings began with a presentation from Marie- Claire Edwards the Green Spaces Service Manager for the Royal Borough of Kingston, the talk revolved around the Green Spaces Strategy which is currently under consultation. Section 8 of the strategy focuses on biodiversity conservation within the borough, and highlights the importance of community groups to play their part in protecting our wildlife, especially in a time of austerity in which the council has few resources to undertake the task. To complete the consultation please click here.

 

Marie- Claire went on to discuss the relatively new approach of designating each of our green spaces with a particular function; such as sport, family recreation or areas for wildlife in order to meet the varied requirements of a growing community. The successes of wild flower meadows were also discussed as well as the future designation of the 107 acre Tolworth Court Farm, it was made clear that no final decisions had yet to be made towards the area gaining a Country Park designation, though issues such as dog walking companies were highlighted.

 

Following this it was time to hear updates from across the borough, so the floor was opened to all in attendance who were given the opportunity to inform the room of biodiversity on goings. This was a lively session, which displayed the array of ongoing activities. Some of which include the increasing amount of Bat walks that are taking place, the great work of both the Lower Mole and the Environment Trust across the borough in areas such as Castle Hill and Church Fields respectively.  Lots of action of the Hogsmil River with pollution monitoring, invertebrate and eel surveying and Butterfly surveys of Tolworth Court Farm.

 

After a short break it was time for Karen Harper of the London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI) to discuss their role in protecting London from invasive non-native species. This gave Karen her chance to get her bug bear off her chest and explain that there is difference between non-native and invasive non-native species, in which only invasive non-native species pose a threat to our us either physically or economically and there are currently 100 such species within the UK at the present time. The presentation then moved on to alert species which must be reported if sighted, these included the Asian Hornet and the Quagga Mussel. More commonly sighted species were then discussed including the toxic giant hogweed which can cause painful rashes if touched through a condition termed phyto-photodermatitis, and the rather more appealing terrapin though still environmentally damaging to freshwater ecology, these are typically abandoned by pet owners whi no longer wish to have their company.

 

To reduce the dispersal of invasive species it was urged that you do not enter any waterway wearing equipment that is wet and has not been cleaned or inspected for stowaways, this simple procedure can go a long way to protecting our rivers. More information can be found on their website, or by coming into the Kingston Environment Centre where we have educational hand out material provided by Karen.

 

Finally Tom Hooker, the founder of the Surbiton Wildlife Group presented on the borough's newest friends group. Established in January of this year, this group is focussed on reviving Claremont Gardens in Surbiton, the group is going from strength to strength raising funds and rapidly increasing their membership enabling them to protect the area and improve the area for both the community and wildlife. The group has a diverse range of expertise including ecologists, landscape gardeners and wildlife cameramen, more can be found out about this group on their twitter page and they have volunteering events scheduled for July. You can also register to vote for the group which will increase the probability of them securing an important grant, please click here to do so.

 

The Kingston Biodiversity Network would like to thank all the speakers and all who attended, please lookout for details of our next meeting.