The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) estate is one of the largest in government, including prison, probation and Home Office buildings and land. With a wide range of habitats, both inside and outside of secure areas, the MoJ Ecology team works with estates and facilities management to ensure biodiversity compliance and best practice, as well as promoting enhancement for habitats and species. This includes any site decommissioning or new build construction projects.
The MoJ Ecology team also has a number of partnerships to educate, inspire and support offenders and their well-being through ecological activities such as bird box construction, pond creation and reptile survey.
The Ministry supports an annual wildlife awards scheme for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and we are pleased to bring you details of two of the winners from the 23 applications in 2019.
National Overall Winner
Roy Jones the Gardener at HMP Hewell, and his team of dedicated inmates both in the open prison and the closed site have used some novel recycling skills to create some fantastic habitats, such as bug boxes, hedgehog houses, barn owl boxes, tawny owl boxes, and bat boxes. They’ve even turned an old root store into a bat cave! All have been placed around the Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) to encourage wildlife. Additionally, they have built a mobile bird hide on the back of an old tractor trailer that can be moved around the lake to enable bird surveying. It’s made from recycled fence rails, and has a living wild flower roof. The plans and construction for this were created by one prisoner. Its purpose is not just as a place to watch wildlife, but as a place for families to visit and enjoy a shared experience together.
They are also involved in community engagement work and have partnered up with two local schools and provided them with bug boxes, hedgehog boxes and some wildflower seeds; encouraging the children to take an interest at an early age, in wildlife.
Individual Commendation was also awarded to Roy Jones, HMP Hewell
National Highly Commended
There is already an established hedgehog project and this year, the team of ten prisoners and two staff members have created a natural wildlife pond within the prison walls which is attracting lots of invertebrates (for example pond skaters, lesser boatmen, diving beetles and live daphne), butterflies, bees and birds. The staff have also introduced tadpoles, newts and frog spawn to the pond to further increase its diversity. This new area is adorned with bug hotels and bird feeders. There is a bog area, a decked seating area, and a beautiful sculpture; which doubles up as a huge insect hotel – all made by prisoners from recycled material.
The successful hedgehog project is running in partnership with the ‘Warts n All Sanctuary’; and continues to provide a permanent home for disabled hedgehogs in a near-natural habitat, also nurturing baby orphaned hedgehogs, until they are big and strong enough to be released back into the wild.
The Judges Gold Commendation was also awarded to HMP Doncaster
The Ministry of Justice is a member of the NBN Trust and you can see Ministry of Justice datasets available on the NBN Atlas.
A word from the Head Judge
Dr Phil Thomas, Ministry of Justice
It is with great pleasure, but with a tinge of sadness, that I report on my final Wildlife Award as Head Judge. There is no doubt that year on year the HMPPS Wildlife Award has gone from strength to strength. Each year I and my fellow judges have remarked on the fact that as judges we are challenged with judging so many original and passionate applications. This year, there has been an amazing array of projects from large cemeteries, to raptor centres and community hedgehog projects; all unique and deserving in their own way. I have personally read every application and been moved by them all.
There is, however, one factor that connects these projects together, and that’s the passion and commitment of the people who drive these remarkable projects forward. The Wildlife Award is not just about the celebration of working, protecting and conserving our natural flora and fauna, it’s about our connections as people to nature and the good it can do for our health and well-being, and providing a link to local communities in restorative justice and assisting with offending behaviour programmes.
If I was to be pushed on giving any advice or guidance for new applications or even returning applicants, it would only be, you have a voice; and it’s that voice that our native wildlife relies on, for you to speak for them. Every small thing we do for our native species and habitats, can make an enormous difference, so never think that putting up a couple of bird boxes or putting a small sink sized pond will have little effect; it does and it makes a difference.