We give a dam!
Whether it’s creating new beaver habitats or lending pollinators a hand, the National Trust is always working to support the natural world
WHILE humans went into lockdown last year, nature emerged and reclaimed not only wild places but also the unusually empty National Trust gardens and estates. Among many notable sightings, peregrine falcons were spotted nesting on Corfe
Castle for the first time in 40 years.
And as people venture out once more it’s hopefully with a renewed appreciation of the natural world.
“We know that 60% of UK wild species have been lost in the last 50 years, and that nature’s recovery is a vital but enormous task,” said Alex Raeder, the National Trust’s Nature Conservation Advisor in the South West.
“Here we’re doing everything possible to not only halt the decline but also rebuild and strengthen whole habitats – linking up places to make one big corridor for nature.”
At Godrevy Farm on the Cornish coast they’ve sown the super-pollinating, purple-flowered Phacelia into their arable and green crops. Not only do these plants attract bees and butterflies, but they also break down into fertile manure for future crops. It’s a great example of how farming can be sustainable and productive while equally good for nature, climate and people.
On the coast near Polzeath, the fields are turning bright red and yellow. Farmed organically since 2016 without the routine use of sprays and fertilisers, wildflowers are blooming. Red poppies and yellow corn marigolds paint a real picture, and dozens of other wild plants are providing seeds as food for breeding birds. The emphasis is firmly on creating benefits for wildlife,
restoring habitats and encouraging rare species. Footpaths are also managed to protect skylarks and other ground nesting birds.
Beavers are nature’s superstars. They’ve been successfully reintroduced on the Trust’s Holnicote Estate on the edge of Exmoor as part of a river restoration project. Already they’re beavering away, creating a dam that slows water flow and improves river quality and biodiversity. These industrious ‘eco-engineers’ also help to prevent flooding downstream.
On Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire a huge number of globally endangered large blue butterflies have been reintroduced. Out of more than 1,000 larvae released last year about 750 butterflies emerged across the common.
But perhaps the South West’s finest natural asset is its coastline – sand dunes and rock pools, nature-rich grasslands, scrub and Atlantic woods. As Alex Raeder said: “The National Trust cares for one in every three miles of stunning coastline. We need to achieve a balance – a mosaic of coastal habitats that results in the greatest diversity of wildlife.”
And Alex added: “We all need to play our part in ensuring wildlife remains undisturbed and flourishes. This could simply mean sticking to paths, keeping dogs under control, enjoying but not approaching wildlife, and taking litter home.”
Please check the National Trust website before visiting for opening times and to find out what to expect from your visit. Some places may require booking in advance.