Sheila Meades, on behalf of the Sid Biodiversity Group

We are delighted to announce the return of the Sidmouth Biodiversity Festival, which takes place in and around the town over the weekend of 7 to 9 June. The full programme of free events is now available and details can be found on our website www.sidvalleybiodiversity.org

We have been busy working over the past few months to put together three themed days of exploration, education, and engagement with our rich natural world and we are lucky to be supported by both experts and enthusiasts. Festival participants will have the chance to engage with knowledgeable speakers, take part in hands-on activities, and explore our local biodiversity. From informative talks on river systemsto exhilarating rockpooling adventures, each event will foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural beauty of our surroundings.

Whether you’re a seasoned nature enthusiast or simply curious about the world around you, there’s something for everyone at our festival. Highlights include:

River Learning – Friday 7 June. The festival begins with two thought-provoking, river-related talks at Kennaway House by Simon Browning and Roger Cutting. In the afternoon, join in with a variety of river-themed activities in The Byes, suitable for all ages. In the evening, join us for a bat detection walk along the banks of the RiverSid, led by local expert, Sarah Butcher (booking essential).

Sea Adventures – Saturday 8 June. Celebrate World Ocean Day with an exploration of our coastal wonders. Learn from renowned experts about the fascinating world of marine mammals and discover the secrets of whale communication from biologist, filmmaker and author, Tom Mustill. Families are invited to join us for a hands-on rockpooling adventure at Chit Rocks, where you’ll uncover a treasure trove of marine life hidden beneath the surface.

Land Discovery – Sunday 9 June. The weekend concludes with a focus on land-based activities, as we explore the Sidmouth Community Food Forest in Sidford. From guided tours to creative sessions for all ages, there’s plenty to discover in this ever-growing edible garden run completely by local volunteers. Join knowledgeable guides for wildlife walks through town and The Byes and gain a fresh appreciation for the biodiversity on our doorstep.

In addition to these events, the festival will feature the River Sid Catchment Group, who are seeking public input on proposals for improving the River Sid and its surroundings. We would like to encourage attendees to visit their display at the Methodist Church foyer (6-8 June) and participate in a public discussion at Kennaway House on the Friday evening.

Our group is committed to fostering an understanding and appreciation of the diverse wildlife thriving in our valley. We aim to inspire individuals to take meaningful steps towards supporting nature conservation and biodiversity. As we look forward to the festival, we hope it will serve as a platform for learning and discovery, leaving attendees feeling inspired and motivated to make a positive difference.

We are grateful to Sidmouth Town Council for their support for our festival. All events are free of charge, with donations welcomed to support the ongoing activities of our voluntary group. Booking is required for the bat walk and rockpooling due to limited capacity, so be sure to secure your spot early. For more information and to book your place where necessary, visit our website www.sidvalleybiodiversity.org or look out for posters and flyers around town and scan the QR code. A full, printed programme will be available from the TIC and library at the end of May.