On Wednesday the 21st June 2023 Biodiversity champions from around Norfolk were celebrated at the annual Community Biodiversity Awards. The event was held at Norwich Castle Museum and saw over 100 representatives from local groups and projects attend to watch the awards winners and runners up being presented with a framed certificate. Alongside this, guests were treated to 2 special talks, one from ranger and occasional Springwatch host, Ajay Tegala and one from published nature author and activist Kate Blincoe.
In 2023 there were 6 categories in the Community Biodiversity Awards, each with their own entry criteria and a generous sponsor. Below are the winners for each award category.
Young People's Achievement: This award is for individual young people under 25 whose efforts contribute to recording, understanding or action to benefit nature and biodiversity. Young people hold the key to the future for our wildlife so we were looking for those who are inspirational. This award was sponsored by The National Trust
Sarah Wilde was chosen as the winner for the Young peoples award for her endless contribution to educating and enthusing young people to take action to protect local wildlife. Alongside general volunteering with the South Yare wildlife Group, Sarah has also hosted a stall to help young people identify butterflies and their caterpillars and helped to organise a local seed swap.
Saving Species: This award recognises individual or group efforts to improve the situation for wildlife species or species groups. With so many species in rapid decline action is needed at every level. We looked for activities that directly benefit species populations or a specific habitat they rely on. This award was sponsored by The Zoological Society of East Anglia
Jane Harris won the Saving Species Awards for her unwavering promotion of Bat recording and conservation in Norfolk, including recording the international migration routes of one of our rarest species, the Nathusius Pipistrelle bat.
Spaces for Nature: This award celebrates spaces within communities for nature and people, whether large or small. This might be enhancing existing spaces or creating new ones. Action at a local level, by local people is vital to ensure a brighter future for biodiversity. This award was sponsored by Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Stoke Holy Cross Meadow makers were chosen as the winners of the Spaces for Nature award for their creation of a wildflower meadow, including a foraging strip for local barn owls, bug hotels, log piles, nest boxes, benches and information boards.
Nature for Health and Wellbeing: This award celebrates people or projects that benefit individuals in terms of improved health and wellbeing as a direct result of bringing people and nature together. We were looking for initiatives that benefit biodiversity in the community or our knowledge of it. This award was sponsored by Gressenhall Environmental Hub
Dibden Road Bee Project are the inspirational winners of the Nature for Health and wellbeing award. The project engages the formerly homeless residents of a move-on-hostel to care for hives of bees and in order to make the most of their new pollinators, they have planted wildflower areas and started to sell the bio-friendly produce of the bees.
Groups: This award recognises the achievements of groups working on biodiversity projects in their local community. Local groups inspire people to recognise and care for their local biodiversity and bring people together to work with a common purpose. We were looking for achievements for the group, as well as for wildlife and habitats. This award was sponsored by Pensthorpe
Greening Wymondham won the highly contested Groups award for their action in the community. They have helped to create a heritage orchard, planted a tree in a public place for every first year primary school child in the town, held a climate change conference and created hedgehog corridors, among many other activities.
Above and Beyond: This award recognises individuals whose efforts go beyond the usual to engage, stimulate, lead or support communities and volunteers to bring about gains for biodiversity. Their enthusiasm, commitment, communication and imagination are inspirational. This award was sponsored by Lanpro.
Julia Mumford-Smith won the above and beyond awards for her inspiring work to combat the invasive Crassula Helmsii plant which has spread through some of Norfolk most valuable ponds and waterways. Julia motivated and led a team of volunteers to pick the almost microscopic plants from a series of ponds by hand and has helped to eradicate it from some places already.