The presentations by the finalists in the Lincolnshire Environmental Award and Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Award 2009 took place throughout the day. At the evening Gala dinner, when the winning entries were announced, chair of the judges Professor David Bellamy said: "I’m very proud to be back with you today. You are showing us a way to stitch the biodiversity of our world back together. It’s absolutely amazing; all the entries are of a very high standard." On the Operation Barn Owl project, he commented: "What they have done for barn owls is incredible."
Operation Barn Owl began 21 years ago as a collaboration between the Association of Drainage Boards, the Wildlife Conservation Partnership and volunteer barn owl advisors. At that time there were just 200 pairs of barn owls in Lincolnshire but the potential of drainage ditches as linear habitats for barn owls and a range of other species had been recognised. Management of the grassland edges to the drains was changed to benefit the field vole (barn owls main prey item) and, with few places suitable for nest boxes, a barn owl box on a pole was designed. In 1987, Black Sluice Drainage Board put up the first 16 boxes which attracted 8 pairs of owls. Eleven Lincolnshire Drainage Boards are now part of the scheme and over 1000 barn owl chicks have fledged from Drainage Board boxes in Lincolnshire.
With 900 pairs of barn owls, Lincolnshire has most barn owls and the highest density of barn owls of any county in the country. The barn owls’ success is due in part to the grassland strips alongside drains, sensitively managed for biodiversity, and the provision of nest sites.
Bob Sheppard, volunteer barn owl advisor commented: "To win this is quite remarkable because the standard is so high. There are some fantastic entries this year." He praised Lincolnshire farmers and the drainage authorities for working together to help barn owls.
The winning entries in the Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Award were also announced. David Bellamy congratulated all the children, he said: "You are all doing something very special. You have a bit of land at your schools and you are putting the biodiversity back." The Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Award 2009 was awarded to Boston West Primary School where they have used the development of the school grounds to help improve the whole school making it a wonderful place for children and wildlife. The children were very excited to have won the award and thought it was "brilliant" and "awesome", they said that the whole school would be celebrating. Head Teacher Mr Mike Schofield commented: "I’m delighted for the whole school community: past and present, children and staff. But the joy is knowing where we came from 9 years ago as a failing school."
At Boston West Primary School the grey playgrounds and boring school field have been transformed into a fantastic outdoor environment which includes a willow classroom, trim trails, five sense gardens, a pond, bird hide, nest boxes and feeders, an insect hotel, a garden of reflection, animal sculptures, and lots of different kinds of trees. The children also recycle waste and save energy throughout the school. Being eco-friendly is the ethos of the school and there are now plans to build a new sustainable “green” building as part of the school environmental area.
Overall Winner of the Lincolnshire Environmental Award 2009
The Association of Drainage Authorities and the Wildlife Conservation Partnership for “Operation Barn Owl”
Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Winner:
The Association of Drainage Authorities and the Wildlife Conservation Partnership for “Operation Barn Owl”.
Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Runner-up:
Bleak House Farm, Mablethorpe, for the rehabilitation of farmland and creation of wildlife habitats following massive disturbance when gas pipelines were laid.
Business Winner: Centrica Energy
Following the realisation that their mowing regime on grass areas at the South Humberbank Power Station site, Stallingborough, were having an impact on nesting birds, Centrica Energy have changed their land management practices and created new wildlife habitats. They are now supporting other Centrica sites in producing biodiversity plans.
The Gelder Group have created Greentech Management Services (waste treatment centre) and now recycle 90% of their waste and, are developing an ecological reserve adjacent to offices in Sturton by Stow.
Community and Group Winner: Nettleham Woodland Trust
Local residents formed the Nettleham Woodland Trust in 2006 with the aim of wanting to see more trees in their local area. Since then they have involved a wide range of community groups and organisations in tree planting and woodland creation at PC Wood, Lincolnshire Police Headquarters and Monks Wood near Dunholme.
Community and Group Runner-up:
The Burgh Angling Club were commended for their work at Farlesthorpe Lake Nature Reserve, improving the lake for fish and other wildlife, improving access with new pathways and fishing platforms, and involving local children.
Individual Winner: Rodger Brownlow
Rodger Brownlow has been looking after Kettlethorpe Woods since 1983 and has increased biodiversity through woodland management and reversion of arable land to grassland.
Through his Island Woodland Project, Leslie Dean and his family have been clearing rubbish and building waste, clearing ponds and enhancing an area of ponds and woodland in Lincoln.
Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Award 2009
Winner: Boston West Primary School
The John Fielding Community Special School
Swinderby All Saints C of E Primary School
Branston Junior Ranger Service
The Green Team at Bardney C of E Primary School
Isaac Newton Primary School Allotment Club
Tae and Acer Conlon for looking after mute swans in Lincoln