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Category: Walks & Wildlife

EVERY FLOWER COUNTS – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR ANNUAL STOCK TAKE OF UK’s WILDFLOWERS

Making plants a priority

The new National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), launching in spring 2015, will for the first time enable scientists to take an annual stock take of the UK’s wild plants and their habitats, but to do this we need the public’s help. We are looking for volunteers to carry out surveys of wildflowers and their habitats that will provide robust evidence of which widespread plants are increasing or declining, as well as indicating the changing state of our most valued habitats such as grassland, fenland and even road verges. Plants are nature’s building blocks and this new monitoring scheme will sit alongside existing schemes for the UK’s birds and butterflies to help us understand more about how the countryside is changing. plant

Chris Cheffings, from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee says “Currently, information on plant species’ abundance and change is very limited, and it is difficult to gauge the condition of habitats outside protected sites. JNCC is delighted to be able to support the NPMS, which will fill this significant gap in UK biodiversity surveillance.  The annual results collected by volunteers will help to identify trends in hundreds of species, allowing us to assess plant community changes.”Ragged Robin (c) Beth Halski

The search is now on to find 2000 volunteers to take part in the NPMS who will play a vital role in gathering information.  Together the volunteers will monitor wild plants in 28 important habitats, ranging from hedgerows and meadows to salt marsh and scree slopes.

Hayley New, from Plantlife says “The NPMS is hugely enjoyable and over 400 volunteers have helped us set up the new scheme. It’s easy to do and everyone will receive free training and guidance plus support from the partnership for volunteers who have queries, as well as web support and illustrated guidance notes – so volunteers will have the perfect survey tool kit to get them started!” pewsey walk 124

Dr Kevin Walker, Head of Science, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) says:

“It’s really great to finally have a national scheme that everyone can take part in. Whether you simply love wildflowers or are a budding botanist, input from volunteers will provide sound evidence on how our wild plants and habitats are changing. It’s a fantastic achievement and should mean that wild plants are at the forefront of discussions on how our environment is changing and what we should be doing about it.”

How does the NPMS work?

  • Volunteers will be able to choose from three options depending on their level of expertise: recording from a short or an extended list of target species in each habitat or recording all species they find in their plots.
  • Volunteers will be given a 1 km square with a grid showing up to 25 locations. Surveyors will be asked to visit three of those locations and carry out surveys in square plots and then identify two linear features such as hedgerows, rivers and road verges and survey these locations too.
  • The squares have been randomly chosen, but with a focus on squares containing habitats of interest.

Oliver Pescott, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology says “The results from this new scheme should allow us to quantify the smaller changes that are occurring within our most valuable habitats. In the past, volunteer-collected data have been able to demonstrate the results of large-scale habitat loss over the last century, now we would like to reveal even more detail about the changes within the remaining areas of these habitats in our landscape.”     pewsey walk 062

For more information on the NPMS and how to take part please visit www.npms.org.uk

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New website and photo competition launched to celebrate the biodiversity of the Nene Valley

The Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area (NIA) project has today launched a new interactive website, which aims to encourage people to share their views on the local natural environment.Irthlingborough lakes_john abbott

Covering over 41,000 hectares across Northamptonshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough­, the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area features a variety of natural habitats, including wildflower meadows, wetlands, marshes, woodlands and wet grasslands. With fishing lakes, bird watching opportunities and children’s adventure playgrounds, the NIA is an attractive area for animals – such as otters, kingfishers and grass snakes – to call home.

Researchers from the University of Northampton have joined forces with conservation organisations and the national Sciencewise initiative to launch the new NIA website, which features a wealth of information, a virtual tour and a discussion forum.

The website provides an opportunity for local people to share their thoughts on the Nene Valley, and an online mapping survey has been developed to identify areas of the valley that are particularly valued and why these areas are important to visitors.  This will provide University researchers with valuable data that can be used to inform future plans for the valley.NeneValleyNIAlogo

A photo competition has also been launched to find some of the best images of the Nene Valley and to encourage people to explore the area over the summer.  Judges are looking for images of wildlife, landscapes, people, heritage, water, and the built environment taken in the Nene Valley.  There are separate categories for children so everyone can enter. Images should be submitted through the NIA website, and the winners will be selected through an online vote. The most popular photos will be displayed in the Autumn as part of the Nene Valley Festival, and the photographers of the top two images will each win a pair of Opticron binoculars. The competition closes for entries and voting at 5pm on 30 September.

Project co-ordinator Heather Ball from the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust commented: “The new website is a great way to have your say about what goes on in the Nene Valley and share some fabulous images.”

University of Northampton researcher Dr Jim Rouquette added: “We need to gather information on the local places that people particularly value and the benefits that people gain from visiting.  By better understanding what is important to different people, we can start to target conservation efforts and ensure that local knowledge and values are incorporated into decision-making.”  Irthlingborough lakes_john abbott

If you would like to contribute to this important project or take part in the photo competition please go to: www.nenevalleynia.org.

 

 

 

Enjoy the Nene Valley this summer

We’ve got lots of ideas for entertaining the children and the grown-ups this summer and below is a selection of some of our favourites:

  • Family Explorer Challenge at Stanwick Lakes 31 July – Sunday 31 August, 11am – 5pm. Mythical Creatures – explore Stanwick Lakes on a quest to see what is lurking in the undergrowth – you might even spot Nessie! Buy your Challenge Passport from the Visitor Centre or Rangers’ Cabin for £2 per passport.  Additional charges apply for cycle and canoe hire. Normal car park charges apply. Visit www.stanwicklakes.org.uk for more details.damselfly
  • Summer family fun at Lyveden New Bield. There’s something to do every weekday at Lyveden during August with themed self guided activiities. On Fab Fridays, 2-4pm have a go at archery and wild art. Check the website to find out more www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lyveden-new-bield
  • Try fishing for free at Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows Nature Reserve with a taster session on 18 August, 9.30am-2.30pm. Places are limited so you need to book on 01604 405285.
  • Get arty every Thursday of the summer holidays at Stanwick Lakes, 1-4pm. Head to the Discovery Zone and play with clay or make paper bag trees, little peg people and dream catchers. £1 per child.
  • Wildlife Wednesdays run up to 27 August at Fermyn Woods Country Park. Enjoy half hour sessions from 11am – 12.30pm and then from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Join the Ranger to have a go at pond dipping or mini beast hunting if the pond is too low. Buy your ticket from the café for £2. A quiz trail runs daily from 10am – 4.30pm up to 7 September. £2 per trail sheet. 01536 373625.
  • Enjoy a 1970s themed holiday special with Rushden Transport Museum 9-10 August. Find out more at www.rhts.co.uk

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Top 5 free things to do this summer

  1. Head to your nearest library and discover the summer reading scheme.
  2. Make a scrapbook of your activities during the holidays.
  3. Search for creepy crawlies at your local pocket park.
  4. Go for a bike ride with the family.
  5. Get creative with some waterproof paints.

Visit www.nenevalley.net for more ideas of place to visit.

Butterflies!

It is great to visit Fermyn Woods at the moment to see the Purple Emperor – a beautiful butterfly that attracts visitors from all around! Here are Sue’s pictures – our resident wildlife photographer…

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