Golf clubs across England stand to benefit from free environmental management advice thanks to an innovative scheme to be launched this summer.
The English Golf Union and the government’s wildlife advisers, English Nature, have provided joint funding for this new scheme, to be delivered by STRI, the golf industry’s independent advisory and research specialists.
An additional ecologist will be employed to work under the guidance of Bob Taylor, STRI’s senior ecologist, now well established in golf course ecology circles. Over the next two months details of the scheme with an application form will be sent to all English Golf Union affiliated clubs. In July STRI will begin visiting up to 70 golf clubs assigned by representatives from EGU and English Nature from applications received by 28 June. This service is specifically designed for golf clubs who have had little or no ecological or environmental input, to raise awareness of ecological issues relating to their golf courses. An STRI ecologist will spend a day walking each course with greenkeeping staff and club officials before preparing a detailed report offering professional environmental management advice.
Participating clubs will benefit from ongoing support from STRI for an 18 month period. At the end of which they will receive a free follow-up visit to assess progress and, hopefully, a certificate to acknowledge their environmental commitment and showcase wildlife gain.
Applications unsuccessful in the first year of the project will automatically be carried over to the following year for consideration, alongside opportunities for new applicants. A series of joint newsletters will be published and circulated by STRI to follow the progress of clubs taking part in the scheme.
The joint funding for this free service will also extend to offering support to all EGU affiliated clubs through telephone and written advice from STRI. A series of advisory leaflets providing conservation advice on issues ranging from pesticides to management of the rough will be made available free of charge.
This three-year project heralds a new era of co-operation between golf clubs and conservationists, and is the culmination of a series of meetings between the EGU, English Nature and the STRI over the last two years.
English Nature’s chief scientist, Dr Keith Duff, himself a keen golfer, said: “Golf courses, contrary to popular belief, can provide vital green corridors and oases for wildlife amongst an ever encroaching tide of developed land and monocultured farmland. Often relatively minor changes to course management can deliver huge benefits to wildlife and we’re delighted to co-fund this ground breaking scheme to provide free tailored expert environmental advice to golf clubs throughout England.”
Golf Services Committee Chairman, Colin Spurr, added: “The English Golf Union welcome the opportunity to join with English Nature and the STRI on this project which will ultimately be to the benefit of both our member clubs and the wonderful habitats that exist on their courses. This can only be good news for golf and conservation.”
This free initiative is not intended to replace more comprehensive ecology and environmental services from STRI or other providers.
English Golf Union www.englishgolfunion.org
English Nature www.english-nature.org.uk