'Biodiversity' is a huge topic and there is perhaps poor understanding of exactly what it means.
The greatest corruption of biodiversity is due to modern farming practices which we here in Sidmouth cannot do too much about. However, we could focus on little pockets of our own environment.
If we focus on plants as one factor in biodiversity we are also providing food and habitat for insects, birds and animals and providing detritus for fungi etc. . .
We might increase biodiversity by enhancing environments to enable species already present to flourish. By example, leaving grasses uncut until the end of the season, encouraging native bushes or hedging. Naturally changing environments may themselves promote diversity eg. a fallen tree. Over manipulation of environments by ourselves may have adverse effects.
The beach garden is an example of where we can make a difference. Sidmouth in Bloom should be congratulated for getting this project off the ground.
About a year ago this was an area of shingle protected from the worst of the storms where a few native plants were already growing. The intention is to enhance the environment to encourage those plants and to introduce further plants raised from seed collected from beach environments close by to Sidmouth. One plant which we have tried to introduce is sea kale which reportedly used to grow on that part of the beach.
It is important to stress the need for using locally sourced seed. Having local populations of a particular plant that may be slightly genetically different from their neighbours is useful. If for example one local population is hit by a disease, then there is a chance that some nearby population is sufficiently genetically diverse to have resistance to that disease.
We need to be careful about where our introduced genetic material comes from however, as so called UK seed companies may well acquire seed from all over Europe, or wider. Adding the same species from somewhere else may be thought of as increasing the local genetic diversity, but really in the longer term it would be reducing it by making the wider gene pool more homogeneous.
The notice board on the beach site is a great asset in attempting to involve and inform.
The project was covered by the press at the time:
TV star declares Sidmouth Oceanscene open! - News - Sidmouth Herald
It is in fact doing very well, half a year on:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Sidmouth Beach Garden - Inauguration
And here's the full report:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Beach Garden
See also: Futures Forum: VGS AGM: Sidmouth in Bloom