Posted in Charity, Environment, Environmental issues, Nature

Our World: Supporting wildlife charities

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One of the ways we can fight against climate change is to join, support or donate to an environmental charity. Eco-charities may focus on creating and maintaining habitat for wildlife, caring for injured animals, campaigning for better awareness of climate change or an improvement in laws against pollution… There’s a myriad of ways that nature can be helped by the organisations out there, and it’s just as well as wildlife needs all the help it can get.

Personally, I’m a member of The Woodland Trust and the RSPB, two of the largest nature organisations in Britain.

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The RSPB has a long history, stretching back to 1889, when it was created by Emily Williamson. It was originally called the Society for the Protection of Birds and its aim was to fight against the Victorian fashion for exotic feathers and plumes; a fashion that meant birds, such as great crested grebes, were heading towards extinction. The society gained popularity and was awarded a Royal Charter in 1904 (so now it was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and its first big success was celebrated in 1921 when the 1921 Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Act was passed. The RSPB’s come a long way since then. It bought its first nature reserve in 1947 (Minsmere) and now manages more than 200 nature reserves across the UK. Leighton Moss, near Morecambe, is the one nearest me and I’ve had several good experiences there.

If you live in the UK, maybe you’ve heard about Big Garden Birdwatch? Well, that annual garden bird count is run by the RSPB and although it may be seen as simple good fun for the family, it also helps the RSPB see how Britain’s birds are faring. One million people took part in 2021 – the largest number ever.    

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Increasingly, the RSPB has changed its focus from solely birds to birds and other wildlife species. It also looks at the global picture. The RSPB is part of BirdLife International, a network of organisations working together to save nature around the world.

I joined the RSPB nearly 20 years ago because I got a free bird feeder (not quite the most profound reason to join a wildlife charity but that feeder did help the birds!) The bird feeder may have been replaced since then but I still enjoy reading the magazine, which has become brighter and more picture-led over the years. has helped me gain some knowledge of these creatures, and also other wildlife.

The Woodland Trust

I’ve mentioned The Woodland Trust before in a few posts as they manage various woodlands near me (that’s how I found out about them in the first place) and it’s the second nature charity I am a member of. While world leaders pontificate to the world while flying by private jet to a conference about climate change, organisations such as The Woodland Trust actually do the work. They plant trees, maintain woodlands and protect vital wildlife habitat from developers. The Trust was started more recently than the RSPB, back in 1972, and is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity. They maintain more than 1,000 woodlands, campaign to stop destruction of ancient woodland, restore damaged woods and create new woodland. Only 13 per cent of the UK is covered by woodland compared to the EU average of 37 per cent. I think nature lovers in Britain would agree that this is definitely an area we need to improve on.

Masons Wood

Over the years, I have been an on and off member with The Wildlife Trust.

The Wildlife Trust is made up of 46 local Wildlife Trusts, which, altogether, look after 2,300 nature reserves, campaign for laws and policies that help wildlife on land and at sea, carry out research, running targeted conservation programmes to help save water voles etc. My local one, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, looks after 50 sites, around 1,288 hectares of habitat in total. At this time I’m not a member but will rejoin at a later date.

These are just three of the largest nature charities in Britain, but there are many, many more. There are small ones, maybe focusing on a local nature reserve, such as Grimsargh Wetlands Trust, in Lancashire. There are specialised ones focusing on a particular species such as Butterfly Conservation. I feel I may need to revisit this topic later on as there are so many people out there helping wildlife in various ways and it really does give me hope.

The RSPB – https://www.rspb.org.uk/

The Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/

The Wildlife Trust – https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/

https://butterfly-conservation.org/

https://www.grimsarghwetlands.org/

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Our World: Hope in the form of new nature reserves

It’s easy to feel despondent at times of the massive environmental issues which are facing us. For example, wildlife habitat is being lost all over the world, the most notable being the vital rainforests in Brazil (and this destruction is affecting indigenous people as well as wildlife). In Britain too, habitat (aka ‘green belt’ and ‘countryside’) is being taken away from wild creatures every day. But it isn’t just wildlife which suffers – a concrete landscape is detrimental to humans’ mental and physical wellbeing and can increase the risks of flooding and climate change. But there are glimmers of hope in the form of new nature reserves. Land which will cater for wildlife, be protected from developers, and be beneficial for our mental and physical health. Not only that, nature reserves can help tackle the big issue of climate change.

The UN says: “Most nature-based solutions for climate change come from strengthening or restoring existing natural ecosystems. For example, forests don’t just absorb carbon, they also defend us from its most devastating impacts. Carefully planted tree species can act as firebreaks, keeping trees next to farmland can protect crops from the erosive forces of intense rain, and forests can alleviate inland floods due to the sponge-like way they absorb water.” (https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1046752)

The Wildlife Trust describes nature reserves as “places where wildlife – plants and animals – are protected and undisturbed, and this can sometimes mean continuing with or restoring the old-time land management practices which originally helped to make them wildlife-rich.”

So it makes sense to create more nature reserves and I’m pleased to say that new ones have been set up in Lancashire over the last 10 years.

Brockholes, near Preston, off the M6 (Opened in 2011)

Brockholes
Brockholes

Brockholes is owned by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and boasts 250 acres of nature – and the UK’s first floating visitor centre (it’s actually on a flood plain so the building is perfect for the setting)! It’s very family-friendly with a cafe, takeaway, information centre and shop. There are regular events and weddings are even held here. The last time I visited there was a Meet and Greet Reptiles and Amphibians event which my godchildren enjoyed.

Despite being accessible (just off the M6 and it is also on the Preston Guild Wheel route), there is an abundance of wildlife. It might be hard to believe now, but before it was a nature reserve, it was once a quarry site and the materials were used to build the M6. Various habitats including lakes, reedbeds, pools, woodland, wet grassland and the River Ribble all offer animals and plants a home. Notable sightings I have seen include roe deer and tiny froglets. Longhorn cattle are ’employed’ to maintain the site. The land was bought in 2007 and was opened to the public in 2011 – it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Happy anniversary Brockholes!

A butterfly at Brockholes

Grimsargh Wetlands (2017)

Grimsargh Wetlands

Grimsargh Wetlands is made up of three former United Utilities Reservoirs and, between the 1840s and 1959, provided water to the surrounding area. The location was classified as a Biological Heritage Site in 2003 and was taken over by the Grimsargh Wetlands Trust in 2017. It may be small but it’s vital for wildlife and a very enjoyable stroll.

I wrote a story about it here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/a-nature-stroll-through-grimsargh-wetlands-one-of-lancashires-newest-nature-reserves/

The Village Parklands (in progress)

At a new housing development near me, I was happy to see that over 80 acres of land had been allocated for The Village Parklands. A sign I saw said there will be new ecology areas containing 27 new ponds, a new designated footpath covering five miles and woodland and wildflower meadows. I look forward to seeing how this will progress.

Primrose Nature Reserve, Clitheroe (2021)

I explored this nature reserve a few months ago, while on a trip to Clitheroe. It may be much smaller than the likes of Brockholes but it is still important – it has been listed as a Biological Heritage Site. The location is home to a man-made reservoir, Primrose Lodge, and Mearley Brook, which flows through here. Strange to think it now, but it was once an industrial site and the lodge generated power for the nearby factories. Primrose Mill actually opened in 1787 for cotton spinning. These days it’s a tranquil spot, owned and maintained by Primrose Community Nature Trust. The Ribble Rivers Trust has done a lot of work restoring the site and it only officially opened in March this year. An interesting fact about this reserve is that one of the largest fish passes in England has been installed here, making fish breeding grounds accessible for salmon, eels, trout and other species.

The Fauna Nature Reserve, Lancaster (2011-2012)

This 16-acre site was created by The Fairfield Association, formed by residents of Fairfield, Lancaster. The association started off campaigning to save a children’s play area from housing development in the mid-1990s. From that successful beginning, over the years they have bought or leased increasing amounts of land to form The Fauna Nature Reserve.

There will be other community groups and charities, big and small, who are creating safe havens for nature all around the world. By doing so, they’re saving rare species, giving wildlife a home, protecting habitats, helping people’s mental and physical health and fighting against the worst effects of climate change. I hope that many, many more nature reserves will be set up in the coming years.