The Director of Open Spaces to be heard.
The Director of Open Spaces was heard relative to the City Corporation’s Biodiversity Action Plan.
The City Gardens Manager gave a brief introduction to biodiversity and the City’s Biodiversity Action Plan which was due to be approved by the Open Spaces Committee the following week. The plan focused on four themes: open spaces and habitat management, the built environment, education and community engagement, and data collection. The Board was advised that Members and officers could help by establishing the biodiversity on the City’s educational sites and look at how this could be improved or better preserved, including reviewing buildings and management processes. Regarding education and community engagement, the Board could have a role in ensuring a greater understanding across the schools and within the community. The officer offered his assistance in supporting the Board and schools in relation to the plan as well as signposting Members to the Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership Group who could provide resources and/or offer opportunities to connect with others for support.
The Chair began the discussion by suggesting the introduction of a termly environment forum, following the format of the other forums already held by the Education Unit, as well as a student event encouraging the importance of youth voice on the subject and linking with the cross-Corporation work on climate action and sustainability.
A Member also suggested that a gap analysis be undertaken to guide decision making in this area, to which officers in the Education Unit and Open Spaces agreed to collaboratively progress. The Member expressed overall support of the Education Board’s involvement in the plan, noting the importance of education in protecting the City’s Open Spaces, before asking how best to work with other local authorities to develop a coordinated plan forward. The Board was advised that biodiversity plans differed across local authorities and that the best way forward would be to communicate with the local authorities in question to ascertain how to better collaborate. The Strategy and Skills Director reminded the Board that effective work in this area was already being undertaken and highlighted the importance of collaboration in maximising the benefits of this.
It was highlighted that many of the City’s schools are fortunately recently built or developed meaning environmental factors had already been considered. A Member supported this notion highlighting that considering this in planning stages offered greater benefits than retrospectively implementing measures.
The Deputy Chair informed the Board that an invitation was expected to be received for the City Schools to become involved in an upcoming Historic Royal Palaces project focusing on biodiversity and suggested that this be shared with officers from Open Spaces.
A Member enquired as to whether a checklist currently existed to guide the City’s schools, who may be dealing with the issue for the first time. It was confirmed that such a targeted resource did not currently exist but that officers could work with those from the Education Unit to develop a checklist appropriate for the schools.
In response to a question regarding the involvement of bio sciences in school subjects, the Board noted that, while becoming involved in some subject areas, there was a recognition that this should be developed across all subject areas including targeted GCSE and A Level options.
RESOLVED, that the presentation be received.