We are delighted to announce that our biosecurity partnership project received recognition at the Pennon Environmental Awards in 2019.

We have been working in partnership with South West Water (SWW) to engage stakeholders to promote biosecurity and raise awareness of the impacts of invasive non-native species (INNS). The project was awarded third place in the 2019 awards presentation, held at Peninsula House, Exeter on Thursday 12 December. The individuals involved in the project were highly commended for their work; Kate Hills, Biosecurity and Invasives Manager at SWW and Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer at SWLT (appointed in February 2019) are the first two dedicated posts within their organisations to focus on INNS.

Since the project began in February, Nicola has organised and attended 19 family engagement days and workshops with additional training events and talks for colleagues. She has worked with 1246 stakeholders across the groups who use the lakes for sport and recreation, and the feedback from a series of recent biosecurity workshops will be used to inform the employment of biosecurity measures at the lakes.

Nicola said, “It is fantastic to receive acknowledgement of our work. It is a testimony to the hard work of the entire team, both at South West Lakes Trust and South West Water; however, none of this would be happening if it weren’t for our passionate and dedicated volunteers all working together to protect the lakes from the impacts of invasive non-native species. It is a pleasure to be working with all our stakeholders and I look forward to continuing the project next year.”

Kate Hills said, “Nicola has achieved a huge amount in her first year. Her knowledge and enthusiasm is inspiring and is testament to the number of volunteers she has liaised with and is recruiting as site guardians. We have ambitious plans for the future to promote protection of the lakes and recreational activities associated with them. Nicola will be invaluable to this and it is a pleasure to be working with her.”

Through the RAPID LIFE Project, a regional pilot biosecurity accreditation scheme is being carried out. The AQUA scheme (Aquatic Quality Award) has been promoted at the recent SWLT/SWW biosecurity workshops and has been well received, involving the acquisition of Site Guardians at 24 lakes. Site Guardians are volunteers who work with Nicola to report on INNS and monitor their local lake. If you regularly visit the lakes and would like to help, you can find out more here.

We are now planning an events programme for 2020, and will be hosting the next South West Invasive Species Forum on Thursday 21st May to coincide with National Invasive Species Week (18 – 22 May), which will once again see a range of activities and events involving visitors to the lakes.