Guardians of the Deep was a partnership project between Thanet Council (Thanet Coast Project), Medway Swale Estuary Partnership, Natural England, Kent County Council and led by Kent Wildlife Trust. It was support from the Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of £446,100 to run a 3 year project (2017 – March 2020).
The project involved local communities, businesses and visitors – by raising awareness of marine habitats and promoting active and ongoing guardianship role to protect Kent’s coastal and marine wildlife for the future. Almost the entire Kent coast falls within a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Kent has a number of Marine Conservation Zones all around its coastline and at offshore. Kent’s marine habitats are considered at threat from unsustainable and damaging fishing practices, invasive species, pollutants and increasing levels of recreational disturbance.
The activities within the project will raise awareness of the wildlife importance of these areas and involve volunteers in helping to protect them and promote their enjoyment.
The project covered three stretches of coastline that encompassed the newly designated Marine Conservation Zones, including NE Kent – the Thanet Coast. The project involved three project officers (North East Kent; Folkestone-Dover; and part-time in the Medway-Swale area).
The main project remit covered:
Coastal Guardians* – the development of community champions: learning from the successful Thanet coastal wardens around NE Kent, guardians will become the eyes and ears of the coast, surveying and sharing information with conservation organisations.
Undersea Explorers – involving workshops with young people raising awareness of marine habitats, conservation zones, water safety and snorkelling skills.
WildBeach – a 6 week programme of inspiring outdoor activities for schools and youth groups run at the coast, building self-confidence and self-esteem whilst learning about Kent’s natural marine heritage.
Coastal Connections – public and digital campaign to build awareness of, and support for, the importance of sustainable use of our marine environment and supporting events – including the Thanet Coast’s small events programme.
Coastal Citizen Science – volunteers will be trained in surveys and species recognition to enable them to take a direct role to help conserve their local natural coastal heritage – including the establishment of a north Kent CoastBusters team, extending the Thanet Coast’s extremely successful pilot Pacific oyster control programme.
You can still volunteer your time after the project finishes and continue – and just need to complete an online registration form (2020) There are approximately 2 training courses a year (May & October) & so we will invite you to register to attend after you have registered your interest above. If dates are knwn they will be shown For any known on the Thanet Coast’s What’s On page.
‘Guardians of the Deep’ leaflet 2015/16 (pdf, 1491kb)
Guardian of the Deep ‘Gap Analysis’ – Summary Report (23/3/2016: PDF, 563KB)
Press Release: Fantastic news for Kent’s natural heritage (heritagefund.org.uk) (24/1/2017, HLF)
Poster: Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR Guardians Workshop invite 5 May 2017 (PDF,577KB)
Poster: Could you be a Coastal Guardian (JPeg, 291KB)
Wildbeach/Teach on the Beach: knowledge learnt from the project is now available online to help teachers benefit from these WildBeach activities (2020).