With spring rolling back round, now’s the time to not only enjoy the natural world around us more but also recognise how lucky we are to have it, and what we can do to preserve it. One organisation keen to do that are the UK-wide Wildlife Trusts, who, with their Big Wild Year, tell Elizabeth Morris what important work they have going on in Wales.
The Wildlife Trusts Federation is a network of 47 different Wildlife Trust charities that all share the same aim of protecting wildlife, encouraging people to take action and care for our natural world and creating a society that treats wildlife and nature with equality. Naomi Crowther, the Wildlife Trusts’ media officer, explains the importance of protecting Wales’ wildlife in particular.
“Wales might be a small country, but it’s incredibly varied landscape and mild climate make it a haven for wildlife, including many rarer birds and animals that are not faring so well across the border in England. Despite Wales’ diminutive size, it has an abundance of wildlife, with an estimated 50,000 terrestrial species. While there are undoubtedly some success stories – such as Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust’s Dyfi Osprey Project where in 2011 these magnificent birds of prey bred for the first time in Wales for 400 years – there is much work that still needs to be done. But with increasingly ambitious projects, the Wildlife Trusts in Wales are working hard to make 2023 wilder than the year before.”
Here’s a rundown of what each of Wales’ five Wildlife Trusts are up to this year.
GWENT WILDLIFE TRUST
- Campaigning against the building of a solar power station on Magnor Marsh that will damage the wetlands and the wildlife within them. Whilst they support renewable energy, they don’t support destroying the environment in order to save it.
- Restoring 81 acres of wetland to open Bridewell Common to the public so that everyone can enjoy its wildlife including otters, water voles and barn owls.
NORTH WALES WILDLIFE TRUST
- Continuing their seagrass ocean rescue, planting seagrass to create habitats for biodiversity, to provide coastal protection and to increase the ocean’s capacity for carbon storage.
- After securing a Welsh Government grant, the Trust is working on a project to reintroduce wild beavers into Wales, releasing them into the wild to reinforce existing beaver groups.
MONTGOMERYSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST
- Running a wellbeing project that delivers ecotherapy sessions, including activities such as woodwork and wildlife surveying, for anyone aged 11-69 in north Powys who is struggling with a low-level mental health issue.
- Encouraging the public to save swifts, a bird species that has decreased by around 60% in recent years. They are providing nest boxes for local communities to set up and save the birds.
THE WILDLIFE TRUST OF SOUTH AND WEST WALES
- Pencnwc Mawr is a rare temperate woodland that has declined dramatically in size, but the Trust have taken on the challenge of increasing the woodland and they aim to integrate it with its neighbouring Pengelli woodland. This year they are raising funds for this aim.
- Recently acquired Caermalwas Fach Farm to use it to build a model for sustainable farming in which biodiversity is increased and there is a stronger focus on animal welfare.
RADNORSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST
- Continuing its work to save the River Wye from pollution with the help of a citizen scientist and further campaigns to support the river’s return to health.
- Running a Wildlife and Climate Summer Camp to strengthen the bond between Wales’ five Wildlife Trusts and with local young people. They will run activities and build campaigns to educate on and advocate for wildlife equality.
How can people get involved in these projects? “Depending on the time and funds you have, you could become a member, donate to support our work or support us by volunteering,” Naomi says. “Alternatively, get in touch to find out how you can make a difference for wildlife in your garden, your street, your business or your local community.”
words ELIZABETH MORRIS
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