By Suzanne Goodfellow (Devon LNP Chair)
As we ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’, I have been reflecting on what worked well in 2016 and how we can build on this in 2017.
Highlights for me were our Conference and Spring Lecture by Professor John Lawton in March (both of which attracted over 200 participants), the Outdoor Learning Conference (organised with the Devon Environmental Sustainability Working Group, DESWG), Naturally Healthy events in May, our Get Devon Buzzing campaign and getting down to earth judging the Kingfisher Awards for Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) in September. But of course, the work of Natural Devon is more than just events and we have continued to forge new partnerships across sectors and strengthen existing ones; bringing people together to identify mutual aims and supporting our partners in being ‘environmentally inclusive’. We have worked with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), contributed to the devolution debate, promoted agri-environment support, developed our naturally healthy work, and shared platforms and discussions with many people working within and outside of environmental organisations.
An excellent example of this for me was the last event of the year. The Southwest LNPs and South Region Sustainability and Health Network jointly organised a conference in Bristol on realising the health benefits of the natural environment. Speakers included yours truly, Pam Warhurst from the South Pennines LNP, Caroline Jessel (Lead for Sustainability and Health for the South Region of the NHS and Chair of Kent LNP) David Pencheon (Sustainable Development Unit, NHS), Nigel Acheson (South Region Medical Director NHS) and James Mapstone (lead for sustainable development South Region PHE). Inspiring workshops and a fantastic marketplace of innovative and successful projects contributed to an inspiring day full of ideas and we are determined to take this forward together in 2017, both nationally and locally, with our Naturally Healthy Month being extended this year to include Somerset and well as the whole of Devon.
We have also contributed to the Governments 25 Year Plan for the Environment and I have just returned from a meeting with Defra in Bristol to discuss details for the roll out in 2017.
We look forward to welcoming Professor Dieter Helm CBE as our guest speaker in the Spring and continuing to work with the LEP and other partners on the new productivity plans, natural capital accounting, green infrastructure provision and supporting practical projects that improve our wildlife. Brexit will doubtless throw us some challenges but there are opportunities too – lots to play for in 2017. Working across sectors is exciting and what we do. We listen, learn and add value where we can.
I must end with thanking our LNP Board members who are all very actively involved in Natural Devon’s work, and our tireless co-ordinator Sarah Jennings and her team including volunteers. Without them the LNP wouldn’t exist and I am very grateful for all their support, energy, ideas and hard work in making Devon a better place for people and improving our wonderful natural environment.
Happy New Year!
Suzanne Goodfellow (Devon LNP Chair)
Keep your eye on our home page for more blog posts throughout the year!