This week colleagues from some of the UK’s leading zoos attended a Parliamentary reception to engage with key political figures and communicate the value of good zoos and aquariums.
The event, sponsored by British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), was attended by several zoos from across the UK who are members of the organisation, including Wild Planet Trust who operate both Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo located in Devon and Cornwall.
The reception was designed to highlight the important role that zoos and aquariums play beyond their perimeters through their collaborations with many different communities.
BIAZA and its members believe that establishing strong links with the community to extend their reach is essential to conservation.
“Conservation is collaborative and involves empowering people as well as working with wildlife. All around the globe zoos and aquarium are working with communities to restore nature,” said Andy Hall, Public Affairs Manager from BIAZA.
Andy continued: “Unfortunately wildlife populations across the world have declined by 69% on average since 1970. However BIAZA and its members are committed to protecting and supporting wildlife and they are involved in 800 conservation projects across 105 countries. We, along with our members believe we can make a difference, but we need collaboration and the support of communities to achieve our full potential.”
Dennis Flynn, CEO of Wild Planet Trust along with Steve Nash, Head of Campaigns and Programmes at Wild Planet Trust were delighted to be in attendance and used the opportunity to highlight the Trust’s recent work of installing various seagrass mooring buoys in Torbay.
Engaging with the local community was essential to ensure that the success of the mooring buoys was maximised. Wild Planet Trust ran focus groups, online questionnaires and in-depth interviews to engage with the local community. The insights from this research helped to understand the community’s knowledge and perceptions of seagrass habitats and revealed some of the key challenges to seagrass protection. This research then formed the basis of a community engagement strategy which is already delivering positive results by increasing knowledge, encouraging behaviour change and ultimately preserving seagrass beds.
Steve Nash said “These mooring buoys demonstrate that collaboration and support from a range of communities offers hope for conservation and in particular to these incredibly fragile yet important seagrass habitats.”
To find out more about seagrass click here.