Claudia Watts, GiGL Royal Parks Officer
2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the close, ongoing partnership between GiGL and The Royal Parks. The first GiGL Royal Parks Officer, Ian Woodward, appointed in 2007, set up the Royal Parks biological records system to GiGL standards. Since then, the role has further developed into providing specialised support for a wide range of projects and surveys.
I am the current Royal Parks Officer, having been in post since October 2008. As well as maintaining the species and habitats data and a metadatabase of all surveys carried out in the Royal Parks, I also offer GIS mapping services to parks teams and work very closely with other members of the Royal Parks Ecology team.
Examples of the mapping services provided over the past few years include:
- Mapping grass cutting regimes across the parks to assess how much grassland is being actively managed for conservation.
- Mapping skylark breeding territories so that volunteers can monitor the birds and decide what measures need to be taken to protect them from disturbance.
- Plotting invasive species to target control measures effectively.
- Carrying out GPS surveys of areas that require management. For example, mapping bracken or rhododendron so clearance can be accurately costed.
I hope that this fruitful relationship between the two organisations continues to flourish and develop in the future.
GiGL and Mission: Invertebrate
In 2017, thanks to funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Royal Parks launched Mission: Invertebrate, a project that challenges us to discover, celebrate and protect the invertebrates that call the Royal Parks their home. When the project was first proposed, the Royal parks ecology team used GiGL data to carry out an initial gap analysis; to see where data were deficient and more work could be done if sufficient funds were available. As a result, the theme of grassland invertebrates was chosen. This year, Mission: Invertebrate has worked with GiGL on two key aspects of the project.
Firstly, we have carried out two citizen science surveys, recruiting volunteers to collect data on yellow meadow ants in Richmond Park, and ground invertebrates in The Regent’s Park. Volunteers surveyed multiple sites in both parks, chosen based on map archives and park records. With the help of GiGL, we were able to plot our site areas onto park maps, ensuring accurate representation of the areas covered.
Secondly, seven park-specific specialist surveys were commissioned, each with a different focus. The resulting reports include sightings of several scarce species, and a record of a new bug to Britain, lygaeid Oxycarenus modestus. These datasets, which will help inform future park management plans, have been exchanged with GiGL, and can now be used by other GiGL partners.
Bryony Cross, Mission: Invertebrate Project Officer
GiGL and The Royal Parks OPM data processing
Since 2014, GiGL have played a key role processing data for The Royal Parks’ oak processionary moth management programme in Richmond and Bushy Parks. The effective management period for this pest is limited by its life-cycle. During the active season, the GiGL team handle large volumes of nest surveying and removal data with a fast turnaround. GiGL also provides detailed maps at the start of each season for volunteer surveyors to use. Rapid processing of our data by the GiGL team, ably supported by Claudia Watts, in-house at The Royal Parks, enables us to deploy our nest removal teams with maximum efficiency.
Gillian Jonusas, Arboricultural Officer for The Royal Parks
As part of the Heritage lottery funded restoration project in Brompton Cemetery, a Bioblitz was held in May 2016 in partnership with the Field Studies Council, the Natural History Museum, London Wildlife Trust, the Linnean Society of London and many others. GiGL provided species lists and compartment maps for the site in advance and data input and processing during and after the event.
Interpretation and Communication
Facts and figures from the GiGL/Royal Parks database have been used in: new wildlife interpretation panels in all the parks; a David Attenborough film produced by the Friends of Richmond Park (and a question and answer session at the film’s launch); new management plans for Kensington Gardens and Richmond Park; and newspaper and television stories celebrating National Insect Week and the Royal Parks Pollinator Strategy.
The Royal Parks in London are: Bushy Park and the Longford River, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Green Park and St. James’s Park. Other open spaces in London are also managed by The Royal Parks, including Brompton Cemetery, Grosvenor Square Gardens, Victoria Tower Gardens and the gardens of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street.