Your Shore worked across five Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas (VMCAs) in Cornwall to provide activities to help local people understand why they must look after the sea and its wildlife.
Research had shown that the marine environment was important to people’s quality of life but the challenge for Your Shore was to find ways to encourage more people to turn their interest in marine heritage into active participation to help conserve marine habitats and species.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust provided opportunities for people and community groups to experience the marine environment first hand after research showed some Cornish children had never visited or explored their local seashore. A diverse programme of activities included rock pool rambles, snorkel safaris, river cruises, beach cleans, talks on smugglers and seals, beach art, crabbing and festivals. All were designed to appeal to a wide audience including people with disabilities and special learning needs. Events were used to promote ‘Look, Learn, Leave’ principles and to explain particular issues affecting Cornwall’s seas such as marine litter and the disturbance of wildlife and habitats.
A school education programme was developed with input from teachers and included creation of a marine education kit. Volunteers from the local communities learnt skills in marine species identification and recording, estuarine ecology, dive survey techniques, seal surveys and marine seagrass mapping. A total of 174 volunteer events were held, attracting 3,363 people.
The project worked to develop a partnership with the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Initiative, helping to win support from the business community. An information pack for coastal businesses highlighted marine issues, and explained how they could support their local marine environment.
Through developing relationships with local residents, Your Shore set up sustainable community organisations in each VMCA to ensure the long-term conservation of the marine environment. Your Shore staff provided support and coordination for the new groups including developing web-based information resources.