The R&A has agreed a new partnership with the RSPB to address wildlife conservation and the management of natural habitats at golf courses throughout the United Kingdom.
A new position, which has been funded by The R&A, has been created within the UK’s largest nature conservation charity to advise golf clubs on the management of wildlife species and promote best practice to a wide network of golf courses to support their conservation aims.
Marie Athorn, who has a PhD from the University of Nottingham on habitat creation and is an experienced consultant ecologist, joined the RSPB on 13th January to undertake the new role. She will be tasked with:
- Providing direct support to 35 golf courses on conservation management of priority species and habitats
- Creating a golf conservation network to connect golf course managers with ecological specialists
- Delivering a training programme and suite of education resources in order to foster the use of best practice in wildlife conservation by golf course managers
- Promoting and communicating the work undertaken by golf courses with industry stakeholders
Steve Isaac, Director – Sustainability at The R&A, said, “We are working closely with the RSPB to offer valuable support and advice to golf clubs and their course managers for the protection and management of wildlife species and their habitats.
“Golf courses can provide significant opportunities for the conservation of rare and protected species and this new role will help to create educational resources and develop best practice that can be widely shared throughout a network of clubs. We look forward to working with Marie and seeing the progress that can be made in this area.”
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB said, “This is a really exciting partnership that will deliver good things for nature at a time when everyone is looking at what they can do to help.
“Golf is a sport that combines a rich heritage and tradition with cutting edge technology and innovation and I expect to see our partnership embrace this as we look at how golf courses can provide desperately needed sanctuaries for the UK’s wildlife.
“Working together we can ensure that we give ground staff the skills they need to make this a real and lasting success and I hope our partnership is something that other landowners can learn from.”
Passion for golf
Marie Athorn, the RSPB’s conservation advisor to The R&A said, “This is an amazing opportunity to bring together my passion for golf and my love for the environment. It is impossible not to notice the threats facing our wildlife and golf courses can play an important part in protecting and saving species here in the UK.
“We have some fantastic green spaces that are cared for by dedicated grounds staff for the benefit of the millions of people who play golf. Through this partnership we will be exploring how we can all work together to ensure the game we love is also benefitting local wildlife.”