Step 2: Find out more about your local site
You’ll firstly need to start mapping out your local environment, or the assets that you own if you’re a local council.
Before you even step outside, you can access a range of information about your local environment on the following websites/mapping tools:
- Google Earth Pro is a great resource to show aerial imagery.
- Ordnance Survey Maps are a high quality, free mapping resource.
- Google Maps is a good alternative to Ordnance Survey Maps.
- Cornwall Council Interactive Maps provide a plethora of environmental information.
- MAGIC maps provide great insight into the types of habitats and statutory designations for pieces of land.
- Lagas is a mapping tool similar to MAGIC, but is specifically Cornish.
- The National Biodiversity Network is a great resource for understanding what plants and animals live in your area. Check out details for your local area here.
- QGIS is a free online mapping tool, but requires a bit more expertise.
- Geology of Britain Viewer shows you mapping of geology of areas.
After you have a draft map of the area that you want to manage better for nature, from what you have found online, it’s a good idea to get out outside. Walking surveys and field surveys are a great way to get even more localised information. For example, hedgerows can be surveyed to find out how many different types of shrubs and plants are growing in them.
It’s no secret that it’s a little difficult to know who owns pieces of land in your local area. This may be simpler if you’re a local council, and are aware of what land you own.
Most land is in private ownership, and permission is needed to survey wider areas. The Land Registry can help with finding out more on who owns what piece of land in your area. It’s important to try and understand who owns what piece of land, and then get in touch with them to see how partnerships can be formed.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, think about a specific piece of land that you want to manage better for nature. You may want to know the following:
- Any wildlife designations on your area of land.
- If your area is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or other statutory designations.
- What surveys are available on species within your area.
- What habitats are in your area, and which ones are the most important.
- Any significant landmarks on your land.
- What the land is used for, and the significance it has for the local community.
- Who manages the land.
- Who owns the land.
Got a bit of free time? Test out your ability to use the above mapping resources.
- Can you find the Hayle Estuary on Google Earth Pro?
- Put on the ‘Green Space Overlay’ on OS maps.
- On Cornwall Council interactive maps, can you find the nearest Brownfield site to you?
- Look up how much heathland is on the Lizard Peninsula.
- How many different bird species are within your local area? Find out using the National Biodiversity Network.