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Finding out more about: Dorset Coast Forum

Dorset Coast Forum: Annual Meeting 2019

Before Christmas I attended Dorset Coast Forum's Annual Meeting, held in Poole. It was an extremely interesting programme, with talks from a variety of organisations. The event opened with Dorset Coast Forum providing an update on their own projects. Dorset Coastal Connections, the Forum’s first portfolio project delivered under CCF funding, will be coming to a close this month. It consists of 18 projects that aim to benefit individual communities in a variety of ways: connecting communities with the coast, providing high standard, good quality public areas and connecting communities with each other. Upon the project’s completion the Forum will be looking at CCT area strategies to see what has been improved through the project and which areas still need focus.

There are plans to expand the current FLAG area, which currently stops at Swanage, to encompass the whole of the Dorset coastline. DCF also has a new Aquaculture Development Officer. The need for a dedicated officer, working closely with the Dorset and East Devon FLAG to help develop the aquaculture sector in Dorset and East Devon, was fed back to DCF through workshops and an officer is now in place. Under this role the Dorset Marine Aquaculture Strategy is being developed.  A strategy workshop took place in November and the results and findings have now been incorporated into the draft marine aquaculture strategy. Development of the strategy is ongoing with a release date in the first quarter of 2020. Find out more about DCF's aquaculture work here

.Litter Free Coast & Sea held a successful ‘Going Green is Good for Business’ meeting in Swanage at the start of November to share experiences and knowledge on what businesses can do to reduce impact on the environment and be sustainable. The event comprised showcases from businesses who have reduced their single use plastic, discussions on issues around packaging and a talk from Low Carbon Trust on renewable energy scheme that benefits businesses. As a result of the momentum created by Litter Free Coast & Sea, a new group – Sustainable Swanage – has been established as part of the town’s ongoing efforts to reduce single use plastics to help the marine environment. The Litter Free Coast & Sea project is also producing an animation on the impacts of blackwater, which has been funded through Wessex Water and Natural England. The Jurassic Coast Trust spoke about their work to protect, conserve and manage the outstanding universal value of the Jurassic Coast. The organisation transitioned from being hosted by the Local Authority to a Trust two years ago. They were successful in their CCF bid to create a joined-up network of volunteers and businesses along the Jurassic Coast, working with local partners. The Jurassic Coast Volunteer Network aims to create pathways to employment, particularly within industry that supports the Jurassic Coast, and will be funded until 2021. The Trust are also running the Jurassic Coast Collection Fossil Project, which aims to catalyse research to improve understanding of scientifically significant fossils from across the World Heritage Site and provide access to fossil specimens not usually seen by the public. They have recently drafted a Partnership Plan, outlining the vision and priorities for partnership working, which will be ready for adoption by local authorities in April 2020. Public Health Dorset – Chris Skelly, Head of Programmes (Research & Intelligence) gave a fascinating presentation on microbiome studies. A microbiome is the population of micro-organisms found in any location – mainly bacteria, virus and fungus. The human microbiome is 2% of our body weight, and research shows that our microbiomes shift with exposure to different locations. The importance of a healthy microbiome and increased biodiversity was evidenced with the following fascinating example: biodiverse soils in turn influence the gut microbiome, which has been shown to impact mental health. It is important to restore our natural ecosystems, shift away from agro-pesticides and replenish our urban environments and create healthy green spaces or we risk detrimentally reducing biodiversity at a micro scale that is often overlooked, as well as in terms of more widely reported species colonisation. Dr Ivan Haigh, University of Southampton gave an excellent, engaging presentation on sea level rise. He spoke about the three contributors to SLR: glaciers, thermal expansion and ice sheets (the melting of land-based ice). He highlighted that we can now account for individual contributions to global mean sea level rise in the sea level budget. He also drew attention to the CO2 modeller climate App which you can check out here. Lyme Bay MPALyme Bay is one of the only MPAs to have site-based management rather than feature-based management. The site has been monitored since 2008. It was previously DEFRA and NE funded, and has now been FLAG funded for the last three years. One of the current main focuses is monitoring to assess whether degraded temperate reef systems can recover if partially protected. They are also looking at sediment veneers and whether a site based approach allows for increased species colonisation. Further presentations were delivered by Mott McDonald on marine plastics,  Mindfully Wired, the EA on the Arne Moors Project, Weyfish Dorset Seafood as well as a selection of others in the 5 minute soapbox slots. All presentations from the day can be found on the DCF website.

If you would like to make the CPN aware of your own local event, please email and I will do my best to attend. It is always a pleasure to join local coastal partnership events and discover more about all of the great projects occurring.

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