Blacka Moor Woodland Restoration

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust is an independent local charity dedicated to conserving and enhancing their natural environment and are one of only a few Wildlife Trusts in the UK to be centred in an urban environment.

Blacka Moor is the largest reserve in their care consisting of 455 acres of woodland and heath bequeathed to the people of Sheffield by local philanthropist J G Graves in the 1930s.

It is a haven for wildlife and is home to a number of bird species on the IUCN ‘red list' of threatened species including spotted flycatcher, wood warbler, pied flycatcher, lesser redpoll and bullfinch.

The most common cause of the decline of wildlife is the loss of the specific habitat it needs to survive and quite small changes can render a landscape inimical to wildlife, but conversely, if caught in time there is improvement and restoration which can be done to reverse the decline.

At Blacka Moor the main part of this work involves thinning and scalloping the woodland to allow more light to the ground. A series of warm, dry spring seasons has resulted in the woods donning a thicker canopy earlier in the year which has adversely affected the ground flora, undergrowth and even tree regeneration. This in turn reduces the amount of insect life in the woods, a vital food source for many of these threatened birds and pollinators.

Restore Our Planet has agreed to provide funds to create a number of shallow woodland ponds to boost the number of insects within Blacka Woods.

We have also funded an important Woodland bird survey and the installation of approximately 40 nest boxes.

Fix the Fells Volunteer Scheme

The Lake District attracts more than 19 million visitors annually. However the impact of the volume of footfall on the fells that this number brings, as well as the increasing number of severe weather events, is placing significant pressure on the incredibly fragile mountain environment.

Grass, vegetation and soil are being trampled, exposed and washed away. As paths deteriorate and surfaces become loose, walkers seek to avoid footpaths and are treading on the vegetation to the side. Fragile upland habitats on the slopes, home to endangered species such as parsley fern and woolly hair moss, are being destroyed by erosion. Sediment is being swept into becks, tarns, rivers and lakes, changing water acidity levels and negatively impacting fish and plant life. Vital carbon sinks such as peat bogs are being damaged causing carbon dioxide to be leaked into the atmosphere.

Footpath restoration and maintenance can have a hugely positive impact. At Helvellyn a rare alpine plant, Mouse Ear, disappeared from the fell-side. In Red Tarn the White Schelly fish was facing significant challenges as spawning grounds became clogged due to loose soil spilling from the ridge. Restoration and repair work now subtly directs people away from the sensitive vulnerable areas, reducing erosion and protecting rare plants from trampling and smothering.

Since 2002 the Fix the Fells project, supported by over a hundred trained volunteers, have been using both traditional and cutting edge techniques to repair and maintain footpaths. This work plays an important role in the conservation of mountain habitats and upland landscapes in the Lake District National Park, including work to protect Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The sustainable techniques used take into consideration the geology, vegetation and conservation of the local areas. For example paths are repaired using traditional methods including stone pitching by hand and soil inversion, techniques used since Roman times.
The work is nationally recognised for its expertise in ranger and volunteer led upland path repair at scale. This learning is also being shared to bring benefit to other national parks, for example Snowdonia and with the National Trust for Scotland.

Restore Our Planet has provided funding to support the cost of volunteer ‘lengthmen’ expenses enabling the Lake District Foundation to add a huge amount of extra capacity to the work to restore and maintain footpaths across the fells and as a result conserving the landscape and biodiversity.

We have also provided funds to assist in a succesful grant from the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2020.

This will fund the Real Hedge Fund Campaign which supports a partnership to develop a programme of planting, restoration and conservation.

The ambitious plan is to plant 4000 metres of native hedgerow across Cumbria.

Naturally Native-Water Vole Restoration

Water vole numbers declined dramatically throughout the 20th century and that decline continues today. Naturally Native will tackle the two main causes of decline: predation by introduced American mink and poor quality fragmented riparian habitat. This project will operate at a landscape scale where public engagement and volunteering will be at the heart of its success and is a partnership between Northumbria, Tees valley and Durham Wildlife Trusts.

Thanks to players of the National Lottery water vole surveys have been carried out across the region in order to build up the body of knowledge about the water vole and mink population.

Consultations are being carried out with local communities, landowners and a range of local stakeholders to gather support for the project and develop a body of volunteers who will support the project during the delivery phase.

Work at this scale, in a region whose major settlements and industrial heritage are so characterised by its river systems, has never been attempted before. The team will be working to create better conditions for water voles and help to restore wildlife in rivers and streams.

Mink will systematically be removed following good practice guidance and animal welfare will be paramount.

Where water courses need habitat improvement scrub will be removed and a more diverse range of native food plants installed to create better conditions for water vole populations to grow and expand. This will help once isolated and fragmented populations link up, increasing population numbers and genetic diversity.

Education will be a fundamentally important component of Naturally Native with a strong focus on engaging with 14-25 year olds. An innovative educational programme will engage with new and diverse audiences and use the plight of the water vole as an opportunity to highlight species and habitat loss; broader issues around native and non-native species; the threats facing rivers and wetlands and the wider social benefits of a healthy, thriving natural environment.

Restore Our Planet are pleased to be supporting this excellent project.

Curlew Action

The aims of Curlew Action are to inspire and enable the conservation of curlews, alongside other farmland and wetland wildlife across Britain, whilst advocating for curlews and the landscapes that support them.

It also aims through education, from primary through to degree level, to increase the connection between people and nature encouraging appreciation and protection.

The curlew is a symbol of the wild and is much loved across the UK. By supporting work at a local level, but based on a national network of knowledge, the conservation of curlews can be ensured throughout Britain. As curlews are a keystone species this work will also help a whole suite of farmland and wetland wildlife.

Local people know their land best but often need advice and support on the ground and most landowners are committed to not only keeping curlews on their land but ideally increasing their numbers. Curlew Action will support the work that needs to be done.

Fieldwork requires training of volunteers, especially in the breeding season, building relationships between landowners and conservationists and provision of hardware eg. electric fences, nest cameras, data loggers etc.
Regional conferences and meetings will provide networking and information sharing.

A free-to-all website will provide a focus for knowledge sharing, conservation advice, scientific research and training videos. It will act as a national hub to encourage those in the field and for the collection and sharing of data.

From an education perspective there is a disconnect between people and the natural world with children and adults alike knowing little about the plants and animals that surround us. We lack an understanding of migratory and invasive species, seasonal change and the losses that have occurred over the last few decades. A GCSE in Natural History is the first step to put this right encouraging a fascination with nature throughout secondary school and beyond. The aim would be to extend the programme to A Level, then to university degree level.

Curlew Action will be involved in the production of textbooks and other educational material to back up these courses.

The Trust will also build and operate crowd-funding software which allows individuals to buy land that supports curlews for the Curlew Trust, which would in turn manage that land for the benefit of the curlew and for education.

Restore Our Planet has provided funding which has resulted in the creation of Curlew Action.

Keeping Communities Sustainably Clean

CleanupUK is a charity whose main focus is on helping those who are most in need, usually in areas of deprivation, to combat the litter problem where they are. Through involvement in this activity, people feel their communities are safer, more welcoming and friendlier.

It`s work consists of running the Beautiful Birmingham Project and the Beautiful Boroughs Project.

When we want to relax and be uplifted and inspired we seek out beautiful places. Littered and uncared-for areas have the opposite effect on our spirits – they are depressing, stressful and demoralising. For the people living there this is everyday life and it is hard to muster the enthusiasm and energy to tackle alone what seems like an insurmountable problem.

The projects work with people living in these communities who want to form groups to keep their area clean and safe, thereby strengthening communities depleted by litter, poverty and disadvantage. CleanupUK plays a complementary role with the local authorities, stengthening communities through the simple act of picking up litter and encouraging social action.

Restore Our Planet has provided funding to help support the Beautiful Boroughs Project, launched in 2011, and currently being delivered in 12 of the most deprived and littered London boroughs: Barking & Dagenham, Camden, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

CleanupUK also helps anyone wherever they live in the UK to form a litter-picking group to strengthen their community. This is achieved via the Litter Action website that was have set up in conjunction with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). You will find all that you need on the site to help you run your litter group more easily, start a new group or join a group near to where you live.

Swift boxes for Bath

The common swift, a designated iconic species in Bath, has declined by 53% between 1995 and 2016 and is now amber listed. It is believed loss of nest sites is at least partly responsible. These migrant birds return from their wintering grounds in Africa to the same spot each year to breed – usually in buildings, in gaps in roof tiles and eaves.

Due to our tendency to seal up buildings during renovation or knock them down, swifts are returning to discover their nest site has gone or access is blocked.

To attempt to counteract this trend, Bath Swift Group, part of Bath and District RSPB Local Group, decided to encourage interested local residents and churches to install swift nest boxes.

Restore our Planet has supported the purchase and erection of these in appropriate locations.

By the end of the 2019 season Bath Swift Boxes had supplied and installed 68 new boxes in Bath and the surrounding area.

The 2019 Bath Swift Survey also identified 83 locations in Bath where swifts were found with a total of 125 `nest sites`, some locations with multiple nests. This is an increase on the 2018 totals, however this may be as a result of improved survey techniques, but gives a good understanding of the swifts` whereabouts which is an important factor.

The Butterfly Effect

‘The Butterfly Effect’ is a term coined by the meteorologist and mathematician Edwards Lorenz in 1969 to capture the idea that a small cause (the flap of a butterfly’s wing) could have a major effect such as an extreme weather event. We have borrowed the metaphor as it reflects our ambition for the activities envisaged in a single geography, in this case Gloucestershire, to be scaled up throughout the UK, and the knowledge imparted in a small number of people to be shared with many.

The Butterfly Effect is a new initiative that aims to activate community support and bring a new wave of volunteers to Butterfly Conservation. Education and engaging young people and families will be at the heart of the project but it will pull together a ‘toolkit’ of different opportunities for involving communities.

The main driver of the project is to use this education work as a focus for raising awareness and understanding of how people can get involved to save butterflies, moths and their environment.

Built around Butterfly Conservation’s proven education programme Munching Caterpillars and public campaigns, Big Butterfly Count, Garden Survey and Plant Pots for Pollinators this initiative will draw all these elements together.

The project will operate among a diverse range of groups to include schools. higher education establishments, local government, gardening and nature groups.

Hazel Dormice

Wildwood Trust is a unique centre of excellence for the conservation of British Wildlife. Set in 37 acres of ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The charitable aims of the Trust are, the promotion of conservation; the protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment; the advancement of education in conservation, ecology, biodiversity, sustainable development and British flora and fauna.

Wildwood came into existence in a direct response to the need to safeguard populations of endangered species in the UK and to raise awareness about wildlife conservation. Hazel Dormice live in isolated pockets of habitat, and numbers are declining. They are a Biodiversity Action Plan species, endangered, and need help from captive breeding facilities and release schemes to boost population numbers. Wildwood are the studbook holders for the Hazel Dormouse Captive Breeders Group in the UK and provide healthy adult dormice to the reintroduction programmes helping to restore the former range of dormice in the UK. Wildwood provides training in habitat and nest box monitoring for volunteers and the releases are managed through the People`s Trust for Endangered Species.

Restore has provided funds to assist in a number of areas such as; improving food quality for breeding pairs; costs related to the hand-rearing of orphaned dormice; staff and vets costs relating to habitat monitoring and issues which ensure the optimum health of released dormice.

In 2018 a further grant was agreed to facilitate the construction of five new dormice breeding enclosures, ten nest boxes and heating and over-wintering costs for rescued dormice juveniles.This will help to increase the numbers of dormice Wildwood can provide for release sites in collaboration with Wildlife Trusts around the UK.

Click here to see a video of one of our orphaned dormouse babies being fed by hand.

Community Woodland Network

Following the phenomenal success of The Woodland Trust’s ‘Woods on your Doorstep’ project, the Trust is placing an increasing emphasis on inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about the importance and benefits of trees, and providing opportunities for people to enjoy woodlands and to play an active part in planting and caring for them.

One immediate result from the ‘Woods on your Doorstep’ project was an increase in calls to the Trust for help in acquiring, planning and managing local community woods. The response was to set up the Community Woodland Network. Restore Our Planet has helped fund the three year development phase of the project, enabling the Woodland trust to test and implement mechanisms through which they can provide: Outreach to woodland management groups; advice and guidance on aspects of ecology; woodland management; health and safety and technical support; access to training, equipment and group insurance; a forum to encourage groups to share experiences and give mutual support; and legal frameworks for groups wishing to operate leasehold or management agreements.

Over 260 local woodland management groups from across England and Wales are now actively involved in the Network. The helpline responds to 40-50 phone calls, emails and letters each month and circulates a quarterly newsletter to keep groups up to date on issues and events. The website is supplemented by mini-websites promoting individual groups and mutual support between groups is growing.

Piddington Wood habitat restoration

Very little is left of Oxfordshire`s woodland, and what remains is mainly fragmented and surrounded by intensively farmed land. Woodland plants and animals are struggling to survive in these small isolated woods.

Restore helped fund the doubling of the size of Piddington Wood a remnant of the ancient hunting forest of Bernwood by buying another 21 acres of adjoining woodland and fields. This has helped buffer and protect the ancient wood from the effects of neighbouring intensive agriculture. The whole site is now being managed primarily for the benefit of butterflies, especially the brown hairstreak which is now very rare.

Maintaining forest edge habitats for the butterflies is attracting further species and there is growing interest in the bats that are being attracted to the site, with Local volunteers now erecting and monitoring bat boxes.