Here’s the text from the joint University of Northampton/Wildlife Trust press release:
The Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area (NIA) project has launched a new interactive website, which aims to encourage people to share their views on the local natural environment.
Covering over 41,000 hectares across Northamptonshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough, the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area features a variety of natural habitats, including wildflower meadows, wetlands, marshes, woodlands and wet grasslands. With fishing lakes, bird watching opportunities and children’s adventure playgrounds, the NIA is an attractive area for animals – such as otters, kingfishers and grass snakes – to call home.
Researchers from the University of Northampton have joined forces with conservation organisations and the national Sciencewise initiative to launch the new NIA website, which features a wealth of information, a virtual tour and a discussion forum.
The website provides an opportunity for local people to share their thoughts on the Nene Valley, and an online mapping survey has been developed to identify areas of the valley that are particularly valued and why these areas are important to visitors. This will provide University researchers with valuable data that can be used to inform future plans for the valley.
A photo competition has also been launched to find some of the best images of the Nene Valley and to encourage people to explore the area over the summer. Judges are looking for images of wildlife, landscapes, people, heritage, water, and the built environment taken in the Nene Valley. There are separate categories for children so everyone can enter. Images should be submitted through the NIA website, and the winners will be selected through an online vote. The most popular photos will be displayed in the Autumn as part of the Nene Valley Festival, and the photographers of the top two images will each win a pair of Opticron binoculars. The competition closes for entries and voting at 5pm on 30 September.
Project co-ordinator Heather Ball from the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust commented: “The new website is a great way to have your say about what goes on in the Nene Valley and share some fabulous images.”
University of Northampton researcher Dr Jim Rouquette added: “We need to gather information on the local places that people particularly value and the benefits that people gain from visiting. By better understanding what is important to different people, we can start to target conservation efforts and ensure that local knowledge and values are incorporated into decision-making.”
If you would like to contribute to this important project or take part in the photo competition please go to: www.nenevalleynia.org