0 English Nature join forces with the EGU and the STRI

English Golf on Course with Nature

English Golf Environmental Advisory Service(3 May 2002)

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 Green keeping 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 monoculture 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.

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ENGLISH GOLF UNION

The English Golf Union was established in 1924 and is the governing body for Male Amateur Golf in England.

The traditional core activities of the Union, organising major Amateur Championships, administering the handicapping system and looking after the interests of over 1,890 affiliated golf clubs and some 730,000 club members, have expanded in recent years to include grass roots development of the game and a world class performance programme for the top players.

Guidance on Ecological and Environmental matters comes under the remit of the Golf Services Committee which has for some time recognised the important role golf courses can have in conservation. Evidence of this was the publication in 1995 of 'Living Together' - Golf & Nature in Partnership, a comprehensive guide to the management of different habitats on golf courses. This has since been supported by a prominent place for golf course ecology at the annual road show/seminars held around the country. The EGU is now stepping up its commitment to this important area by part-funding a free environmental advisory service to selected clubs.

Golf Services Committee Chairman Colin Spurr said: "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".

ENGLISH NATURE

English Nature is the statutory adviser to government on nature consideration in England, promoting the consideration of wildlife and natural features. Golf courses can be a rich resource for wildlife. There are 105 courses in England with Sites of Special Scientific Interest - the jewels in the crown of wildlife sites - and 40 are European designated sites covering about 10,000 hectares.

English Nature is contributing £100,000 to the three-year project to promote free environmental advice to enable golf clubs to manage the course for wildlife gain.

For more information contact English Nature's National Press Office 01733 455190 out-of-hours 07970 098005 email press@english-nature.org.uk or visit our website at www.english-nature.org.uk

STRI

In 1929 the Home Golf Unions and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews established what is now STRI. The main aims were to undertake research and provide advisory services for golf courses. By the 1950s, the work of the STRI had expanded to include sports turf and amenity grass areas.

Today, the STRI is a recognised world centre for turf grass research and the UK's National Centre for consultancy in Sports and Amenity Turf. As official agronomist to the R & A Championship Committee, STRI is well established as a leading independent provider of advisory and consultancy services for golf, including agronomy, golf course architecture, construction, drainage, irrigation, laboratory testing and ecology.

Golf Course Ecology and Environmental Management forms an integral part of STRI's Golf Course Development Services. It is geared towards maintaining and enhancing the priorities of golf whilst retaining the fundamentals of environmental and ecological processes. The service is supported by an Ecological Research Unit established at Bingley in 2000. In addition to advisory work, the service provides training and publishes a range of books including the only golf course ecology news sheet "Green Matters" as a supplement to International Turf grass Bulletin, STRI's official magazine.

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