Old Sulehay habitat protection

Old Sulehay, on the Northamptonshire/Peterborough border is a very special area of ancient woodland and limestone grassland full of flowers insects and animals, both common and scarce.

The Oolitic limestone in north Northamptonshire and Peterborough lies on the Lincolnshire limestone. With considerable ancient woodland remaining on the boulder clay areas, it is a landscape with a high concentration of sites that are already important for wildlife and is one of the few areas where a diverse mosaic of wildlife rich habitats occur next to each other. The Trust’s ultimate vision is to link 18 SSSI/NNR/CWS sites totalling 400 hectares of which this is one.

To this end Restore Our Planet’s donation was used specifically for the purchase of 3 adjoining areas: Ring Haw, Nassington Gullet and associated arable farmland in all totalling 39 hectares.

Following the purchase, two arable fields were restored to limestone grasslandusing green hay from nearby species-rich grassland. This has been incredibly succesful and the fields are now managed by grazing using the Wildlife Trust’s own Highland cattle.

The site is regularly visited by botanists both local and further afield.

Nassington Gullet supports a range of plants associated with more open, disturbed habitats. It is managed partly mechanically, cut with a tractor, and by sheep and cattle grazing.

The Ring Haw site includes an old quarry office used by the Wildlife Trust for delivering a range of training events, from general ecological skills through to invertebrate identification.

Wilder UK – Stewardship of Nature

Globally and nationally natural systems face collapse and wildlife numbers continue to plummet. Across the UK alone, 56% of species are in decline, 165 are critically endangered and some, that were once so synonymous with the British countryside, have all but disappeared: hedgehog numbers have halved since the turn of the century and 96% of Turtle doves have been lost in the last 20 years.

Despite decades of work by dedicated and skilled environmental conservation organisations across the globe, our natural systems continue to decline. Traditional intensive human-led conservation management (which has focused on preserving a narrow selection of protected sites and key species) is no longer enough to arrest the devastating loss of nature.

But all is not lost.

Wilding offers a fresh, non-invasive approach that can revitalise and transform ecosystems. Focusing on the stewardship, rather than management, of the natural world, it effectively puts nature ‘back in the driving seat’. By moving away from and limiting human intervention, the natural world is given the space and time to recover, and the introduction of missing keystone species, such as large grazing animals, drives the return of natural processes that promote thriving ecosystems and bio-abundance. The key to this is people, resolving any perceived or real conflicts between wildlife and nature and ensuring that they trust nature to work for them.
Wilding represents a massive step change for conservation organisations. It requires new ways of thinking and changing entrenched ways of working. For this reason, Restore Our Planet are keen to help establish a Stewardship of Nature through Wilding Facilitation Fund, critically, to engage the public in these programmes, to help people understand the natural world and the natural processes that can seem so distant to us in our modern lives; to reconnect people with wild nature.

Restore Our Planet have an existing relationship with Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) and Wildwood Trust (WT). KWT is one of the Wildlife Trusts pioneering these new approaches in the UK, recognising that Kent offers the perfect starting point from which to drive forward Wilding and public engagement with it: if it can work here (which we know it can!) it can work anywhere.

Restore Our Planet will work with KWT and WT as our key delivery partners, providing access to the wider network of individual Wildlife Trusts across the UK. Wildwood Trust have access to other native animals and to other NGOs, local landowners and communities approaching this work.

We will include programmes returning missing species, such as pine marten, beaver and chough and the localised reinforcement of threatened species, such as turtle dove and a range of butterfly species. Collectively we will establish the community of practice to develop a framework for engagement and build capacity for other organisations to kickstart their own wilding projects across the country.

More Trees BANES-Grow Yourself-Community Tree Nursery Project

More Trees Banes is a not-for-profit community group that works hard to protect and plant trees around Bath and North-East Somerset

Grow Yourself is a Community Interest Company which offers offers a range of volunteering, training and work placement opportunities to adults in the Bath and North East Somerset area.

Set up in 2008, run entirely by volunteers More Trees have so far planted 8,000 trees and are currently significantly scaling up their work.

During the winter the bulk of the tree planting takes place and the rest of the year the young trees require weeding, mulching, restaking etc. Volunteers also help with fundraising, planning projects, social media and finance management.

Inspiring households, schools, community groups and businesses is also a key aspiration.

Restore Our Planet are pleased to support Grow Yourself who are partnering with More Trees to create a network of at least 10 new tree nurseries centered around local schools.

Although there are some excellent commercial nurseries in the UK keeping up with an increasing demand they often have to import saplings from abroad. The initial target is to grow at least 5,000 trees from locally collected seed each year.

Grow Yourself will offer professional advice and practical support in the set up and maintenance of these nurseries ensuring appropriate design and tree quality.

Grow Yourself also engages with schools, the young unemployed and people with mental health issues

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.