We need YOU to help to save our wildlife

Kingfisher Kingfisher

Monday, June 2, 2014
4:19 PM

Although there have been some notable conservation success stories, not least the revival of the bittern and the rampant comeback of the otter, the general picture since the Second World War has been far from bright.

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New woodland paths at ReffleyNew woodland paths at Reffley

Despite Norfolk’s nature reserves proving their worth in protecting rare species, there has still been – in the words of David North, head of people and wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) – “a massive decline” in wildlife.

In common with the country’s 46 other wildlife trusts and many other conservation bodies, NWT has set out to stem the loss by adopting its Living Landscape approach - seeking to extend habitats by creating wildlife corridors between reserves.

NWT has identified eight Living Landscape areas across the county and now, in two of them, is calling on the public to join the conservation fight in a project funded with nearly £100,000 of Heritage Lottery Fund cash as well as contributions from other funders. In both the Gaywood Valley, a 4,000-hectare landscape of heathland and mire on the edge of King’s Lynn, and the Bure Valley running through Broadland from Wroxham to the Trinity Broads near Caister, NWT officers are designing projects to enable the public to give nature a helping hand.

Work could involve anything from digging out a village pond to maintaining a wildflower meadow.

Your chance to take part

Paths to Glory

Monday June 2, Roydon Common We are expanding our network of woodland paths in the community area of Roydon Common. Meet at the junction of Low Road and Station Road, Roydon (near Kings Lynn), PE32 1AW. Norfolk Green 48 bus from Kings Lynn Bus Station (Bay 5) at 12.20pm, return 4pm or 5.14pm.

A Rake’s Progress

Wednesday June 4, South Walsham Fen

Fen management. Meet at the junction of B1140 Chameryhall Lane and Burlingham Road, Town Green, South Walsham, NR13 6DT. Please park in lay-by on main road if coming by car.

A River Runs Below It

Wednesday June 11, Caen Meadow, Wroxham

On this land managed by Wroxham Parish Council, we will be doing some basic meadow management to encourage a great diversity of wild flowers, which in turn will provide food for bumblebees and butterflies. Meet at Wroxham Church Hall car park, A1151 main Norwich Road by junction with Church Lane and The Avenue, Wroxham, NR12 8RY.

Shake That Rake!

Wednesday July 2, South Walsham Fen

Fen management. Meet at the junction of B1140 Chameryhall Lane and Burlingham Road, Town Green, South Walsham, NR13 6DT. Please park in lay-by on main road if coming by car.

Scrubbing Up Nicely

Monday July 7, Hudson’s Fen, Roydon

Scrub clearance on this fen, which is adjacent to NWT Roydon Common. Meet at the junction of Low Road and Station Road, Roydon (near Kings Lynn), PE32 1AW. Norfolk Green 48 bus from Kings Lynn Bus Station (Bay 5) at 12.20pm, return 4pm or 5.14pm.

Sessions start at 1pm and last until 4pm on site. Please wear old work clothes, suitable for the weather. If you have them, bring reasonably sturdy shoes or boots, and rainwear. We will bring all the tools and personal protective equipment that is needed for each task, such as gloves, goggles or hard hats.

If the two-year pilot scheme proves successful, NWT will seek further funding to replicate it in other areas of the county.

Explaining the roots of the Living Landscape approach, Mr North said: “People had been talking for a long time about the need to work on a landscape scale instead of just on reserves.

“And Professor John Lawton’s report to Government, Making Space for Nature, endorsed that approach for reversing the decline in biodiversity.”

Mr North said experience had shown that reserves could become like “isolated islands surrounded by an inhospitable environment”.

Vote for your wildlife favourite

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is running a poll to decide which three species best represent two of their Living Landscape project areas: the Gaywood Valley in West Norfolk; and the Bure Valley in the Broads.

Do you regularly see a particular species when out in these areas? Do you simply have a favourite that always makes you feel close to wildlife? Vote for the most iconic species via www.mylivinglandscape.org.uk. Here are the contenders.

Gaywood Valley:

Adder

Barn owl

Black darter

Brown hare

Eel

Glow worm

Heather

Hedgehog

Kingfisher

Lizard

Mistletoe

Nightjar

Slowworm

Water vole.

Bure Valley:

Barn owl

Bittern

Chinese water deer

Crane

Flag iris

Grass snake

Kingfisher

Marsh harrier

Norfolk hawker dragonfly

Otter

Red deer

Reed

Swallowtail butterfly

Water vole.

In the absence of wildlife corridors, species could not easily move if it became necessary over time, for example because of climate change; large populations were also more resilient and genetically stronger.

Their public engagement project, which will see NWT conservation volunteers working outside reserves for the first time, has seen the adoption of what Mr North described as a three tier process of “Discover, Explore and Take Action”.

He said: “The first stage has been to explain to people what it is all about and how they can help. We have held a number of roadshow events and some have been very successful attracting over 100 people.”

The second stage - Explore - has seen the public invited into the countryside for events such as this month’s walking festival in the Bure Valley.

The third stage, which is getting under way with taster events, has involved talking with local landowners and will see people trained with the skills needed to carry out conservation work.

Mr North said projects might involve working on the buffer zones next to reserves, extending habitats, or creating “stepping stones” between protected areas.

He said: “The project was launched last September and we are just getting to this phase. We will be working with private landowners, local businesses and communities to make reserves bigger and better connected.”

The outcome of the project would hopefully be the creation of “self-sustaining, passionate groups who are there looking after habitats”.

“Their work might involve planting a community woodland or orchard, managing a wildflower meadow or working on school grounds to improve the land for wildlife,” he said.

“We are currently at the stage of identifying all these projects and already have some very exciting ones in the pipeline.”

Early project work has included the planting of 750 mixed native trees near Ludham; the planting of a new wildflower area at Sutton Staithe in a popular recreation area and the creation of woodland walks at Roydon Common and Reffley Spring Wood, near King’s Lynn.

Mr North said his team was keen to hear from prospective volunteers and community groups as well as suggestions for projects.

He said: “Why not come and join us outdoors. You can explore some beautiful green spaces, meet new people, discover some unexpected plants and animals and learn new skills – all while taking action to improve the Bure and Gaywood Living Landscapes for people and wildlife.

“All you need to take part are old working clothes suitable for the weather – we will provide all the tools and equipment needed.”

For more details contact the Living Landscape officers, Gemma Walker and Mark Webster, by calling 01603-598333.

There’s also much more about the Living Landscape events programme, which includes free training on a wide range of subjects, at www.mylivinglandscape.org.uk

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