2018 marks the year Peterborough-based charity PECT reaches its 25-year milestone for environmental action. In this issue we talk to Chief Executive Carly Leonard who considers the positive impact the charity has had and how to get involved in future projects
Why is 2018 an important year for the charity?
This year we are celebrating 25 years of working with people to protect and enhance the environment!
Can you tell us more about the launch of PECT back in 1993? Why was the organisation set up?
Peterborough entered and was successful in its bid to a BT sponsored campaign for the title of ‘Environment City’ back in 1992. Its success was based on the strong partnerships in place between the public, private and third sector organisations in the City. From this competition Peterborough Environment City Trust was formed to create a legal body that could seek funds to deliver projects and share the responsibility of driving forward environmental initiatives.
What are the charity’s aims and objectives?
Our mission is to protect and enhance the environment in Peterborough and beyond and our vision is to create sustainable places. When we talk about places being more sustainable we mean that the natural environment is healthy, communities are involved in their area, health and wellbeing is improved for all and resource use is responsible. These four themes provide the focus for our work.
How close are you to achieving these? What’s still to be done?
PECT has achieved a fantastic amount over the years alongside many organisations, communities and individuals. However, we face enormous challenges on our environment that require international, national and local leadership and action. It’s crucial that we continue to evolve the work that we do to have the most impact possible. Also, as a charity, we have to seek funding to deliver all of our work through grants, contracts and donations, so it’s about matching up what needs to be done with funds that are available.
Why is it important that PECT exists?
There is a growing awareness of the need to protect our environment but there is still a lot to do. I see a big part of our role as helping people to make the connections between the choices and actions we take and their impacts. Because the impacts are mostly hidden it is easy to ignore these so bringing to life the benefits of making a positive change is crucial. A great example is walking or cycling instead of using a car for a short journey. This small action reduces congestion and pollution and has the added mental and physical health benefits of exercise.
How do you think Peterborough is perceived for its environmental work?
I think people see that there is a lot of excellent work going on in and around Peterborough, from a wide range of organisations and voluntary groups.
Which of PECT’s achievements are you most proud of?
I am very proud of all of the work that we do at PECT particularly in a challenging funding environment. Supporting businesses to become more responsible, working with residents to save energy, working with schools to get sustainability into lessons and helping to connect people to their natural environment all contribute to our aims. I am especially proud that our Forest for Peterborough project has now planted 100,000 trees in and around the City. We’re aiming to plant a tree for every person living in the City and it’s an ambition that everyone can get involved in and support.
How can people get involved with PECT’s work?
People can get involved through checking our website and events section for upcoming planting days for Forest for Peterborough, as well as other environmental activities in the City. If you are a business then check out iiE and BEECP to see if we can support you to reduce your impact on the environment and save money. As a resident you may be able to reduce your use of water and energy at home – contact us to find out more and check out our 25 tips on the PECT website!
Highlights of the first 25 years
The Peterborough Green Wheel Project In 1997 over 50 cyclists aged between 6 – 74 took part in the first organised Green Wheel cycle-ride. This led to the further development of the route which fully opened in 2000 and was one of the first large scale projects PECT delivered for Peterborough. It provides over 45 miles of continuous cycle paths around the city and it not only contributes to a sustainable transport system but also celebrates over 3,000 years of social, cultural and economic history through colourful interpretation boards and a series of sculptures along the way. When it opened it was ranked in the top 50 UK routes by The Times newspaper.
Forest For Peterborough
The ongoing Forest for Peterborough project was launched in 2010, with the aim of planting 180,000 trees by 2030, equating to one tree for every person living in the City. PECT’s aim was to change the city’s landscape, so that a network of wildlife corridors and green spaces threads its way through our built-up areas. So far 100,000 trees have been planted and every indication is that the very ambitious target will be met.
Education Awards PECT recognises the importance of inspiring future generations to appreciate their local environment and think sustainably. They support the delivery of environmental education in schools and help them to reduce their carbon footprint by following an Eco Framework. The first Environment Education Awards were held in 2010 and have gone from strength to strength. The celebration provides an excellent opportunity for Primary, Secondary and Special schools across the city to join together and share their environmental experiences and best practices to help inspire other schools and students on their eco journeys.
Get involved! What will the next 25 years look like?
There are plenty of exciting projects being planned to ensure that Peterborough and the surrounding areas continue to lead the way in creating sustainable places, but we need your continued support. Stay tuned by visiting www.pect.org.uk and sign up for the e-newsletter on the home page of the website or call 01733 568408. You can also get involved by becoming a PECT volunteer, donating online, or simply by taking a look at the PECT website for our top 25 tips on how to become greener in 2018. Help PECT mark a quarter of a century of environmental work by getting involved with future events and initiatives!