The spread of COVID-19, (Coronavirus) is having a significant impact on our lives. Plantlife and the NPMS is taking this threat seriously. The health and well-being of our staff and volunteers, our members and the landowners and communities with whom we interact remains a priority for us.
As such it is vital that all our staff and volunteers follow the latest government guidance in order to prevent the spread and transmission of the infection. Government guidance may change quickly so it is important to check www.gov.uk/coronavirus website regularly. Remember that guidance may differ between Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, NPMS surveys remain partially suspended. Volunteers can continue to survey only if they are following all government guidance in their geographic region regarding outdoor activities and travel.
- Surveys in England: Survey work is now permissible from 13 May, where this can be carried out whilst maintaining social distancing and appropriate health and safety procedures at all times (see points to consider below).
- All other countries in the UK: Surveys remain suspended at the current time.
No volunteer should feel under pressure to carry out fieldwork if they do not feel comfortable doing so, or if they are concerned about the impacts of carrying out survey work on relations with landowners or other members of the public.
The health of our volunteers is very important to us, as are our relationships with the landowners who so generously allow us onto their land. Please be sensitive to the feelings of landowners and your impact on local communities at this time; give houses, farm buildings, vehicles and people a wide berth. Help foster good relationships with local communities for the future. Always ensure that you have appropriate and up to date landowner permission to visit.
If you are considering resuming your volunteering activity as a surveyor with the National Plant Monitoring Scheme these are things you may need to think about:
- Check government guidance and remember that if you are shielding or if you are self-isolating due to you or a household member having COVID-19 symptoms you should not be leaving your house.
- Consider the distance you are travelling to your square and how you are travelling to your square. Can social distancing be maintained?
- Consider where your square is. Is it a nature reserve or other area that may be closed still or are there car parking restrictions?
- Do you need to seek permission from landowners to restart?
- What about your health and safety whilst surveying? Do people know where you are? What would you do in case of emergency?
- Can you maintain social distancing whilst surveying?
- Have you considered general control measures to reduce risk –https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home.
Remember, your health and well-being is important to us. We recognise the contribution that volunteers through their surveying and data collection, but not one should feel pressure to resume surveys.