Skern’s Pledge for Nature: Our time at the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Nature Awards

Skern’s Pledge for Nature: Our time at the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Nature Awards

Our Deputy Centre Manager at Skern Lodge, Tom Humphreys, represented Skern and presented at the 2023 ceremony

Last month, Tom joined over one hundred fellow outdoor enthusiasts, environmental educators, wildlife conservationists, community champions, and biodiversity experts to celebrate the successes of the Pledge for Nature project with the 2023 North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Nature Awards at The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington. Celebrating the achievements of the National Lottery Heritage funded project, Pledge for Nature has been running for three years and galvanises community action for nature’s recovery across the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere and beyond.

On the project, Coordinator of the Biosphere’s Nature Recover Plan stated:

“This journey began in 2019 when it was clear that, despite the incredible work of the Biosphere’s partner organisations over the 20 years since the UNESCO designation, we had been unable to turn the tide of nature loss in the area. To make a difference, we clearly needed to do more; [...] a nature recovery plan to focus resources, partners and all our energy on tackling the root causes of nature decline and priorities for nature recovery in the area. A way to inspire individuals and the community across the area and show how collective effort could make a real difference for nature’s recovery.

From bird nest box instalments, tree planting, ‘No Mow May’ to the ‘Big Butterfly Count’, Pledge for Nature comes with numerous opportunities for pledge makers to take part in and support ecological preservation across the UK. We were delighted to win the Business Award for Skern Lodge back in 2022 for our work towards enhancing biodiversity and habitat creation at our centre. Back in December, we took part in #NationalTreeWeek to support North Devon sustainability causes by planting 45 broadleaf trees at Skern Lodge. We also signed up for No Mow May and let the Lodge fields grow wild - helping increase the diversity of plant and animal species in North Devon while reducing our carbon footprint. Further to that, our passion for the outdoors and the learning opportunities that come with it means we can raise much awareness on sustainability and the important relationship between humans and their environment, developed through our variety of outdoor activities and environmental fieldwork courses.

It was a wonderful privilege to be invited back to share the achievements of nominees and announce the winner for 2023 - warmest congratulations to Alina and Tony at Venn Valley Vineyard! 7 other awards were presented in the categories Schools, Youth, Gardener, Community Champion, Community Group, Farmer & Landowner, and a Lottery Player award.

There were also individual awards handed out to local Pupils nominated by their schools, to recognise their efforts in helping nature recover both in their school grounds and surrounding communities. This led to many inspirational stories from across the Biosphere, from primary school children creating their own ‘micro reserve’ and leading ‘eco-committees’ to groups across many villages using various themes to help our environment return to its former glory.

A huge thank you to Jack Woolfenden for planning and hosting such a fantastic event! Find out more about Pledge for Nature here