One of the pleasures of walking in the countryside is the opportunity to see a range of wildlife – maybe mad March hares, a drift of Viper’s bugloss in high summer or a flurry of fieldfares in late autumn. Here in Breckland we are fortunate to have a wide range of flora and fauna, including some of the rarest in the UK – indeed one plant, prostrate perennial knawel, is found nowhere else in the world.
WildWalks, a new website launched by The Wildlife Trusts in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), is hoping to encourage us to record the animals and plants we come across when out walking. You can either follow one of the WildWalks already set up on the website, or create your own, and so help The Wildlife Trusts to build up a picture of how efforts to restore nature are affecting local wildlife. If you repeat the walk, and keep noting what you see, you will help track how wildlife changes and responds to conservation management over time.
This idea is part of The Living Landscapes initiative – a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts since 2006. Recognising that we need to move beyond a relatively few isolated protected sites – small oases of wildlife-rich protected land, such as nature reserves – surrounded by an otherwise inhospitable landscape for many plants and animals, Living Landscapes aims for a more large scale and long-term approach to nature conservation. There are 150 Living Landscape schemes around the UK, and in each individual Wildlife Trusts are working with partners, landowners and local communities to restore the natural landscape. For more information about Living Landscapes click here.
WildWalks are linked to Living Landscapes and play their part in monitoring the progress of the scheme. Beachamwell falls into two Living Landscape areas: The Brecks in the eastern half of our parish, and Wissey to the south-west. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never recorded any wildlife before, WildWalks is designed to allow recorders of all abilities to monitor the plants and animals which you feel comfortable with; the wider the range of species monitored, the better for assessing the impact of the conservation work.
More information on WildWalks from the Wildlife Trusts is available here