Notes from the Hill

By Simon Cooter and the Natural England staff at Rigmoreoak

So it would seem that we have finally realised that the world is experiencing unprecedented loss of wildlife and that we are in an official Environmental and Climate Emergency. This is not something new, but something that conservationists have been warning about for decades. The recent State of Nature report highlights the decline, with 41% of our species in Britain showing a moderate or strong decrease in abundance over the last 50 years, and that’s only since the 1970s when there already had been a vast loss of habitats following the Second World War. The report tells us that today 15% of the species in Britain are under threat from extinction.

However all is not lost, and there is a lot of work being done locally to try and halt the decline that we have seen across the Shropshire Hills. The focus is on working with farmers to take positive action to adopt wildlife friendly farming, action to restore habitats like wetlands and heathlands and to increase the amount of woodland in our countryside.

Conservation organisations like the National Trust are working with farmers in the area to work up plans that will look at how farms can contribute and benefit from a healthy landscape. The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England are restoring land along the Stiperstones ridge, such as at Windy Corner where thanks to the generous donations of the public we have met our target and hopefully will soon be acquiring another extension to the National Nature Reserve (a huge thankyou to all that so generously contributed to our second appeal). The National trust have also recently been able to acquire an important addition to the Long Mynd at Fir Tree Farm.

In addition to this smaller community led projects are actively making a difference protecting curlews, monitoring pine martens, managing hay meadows and verges, putting up nest boxes, researching bats, the list goes on. Recently the new Middle Marches Community Land Trust has set up, with the aim to protect, restore and enhance the environment through the stewardship of land by local people, for more information see their exciting new website.

The Environment and Climate Emergency is not just for governments and conservation organisations to act upon, we can all do our bit, and over the next year I will be highlighting some of the many opportunities there are for local action. We are always after more volunteers to join our friendly group on the Stiperstones, if anyone has time to spare on a Wednesday or Thursday our volunteers come out with us on a variety of management and survey tasks meeting twice a month. For more information contact Cassy at stiperstones.events@naturalengland.org.uk.

Our Christmas wreath making event at Blakemoorgate cottages is on Sunday the 8th December this year. In order to ensure that we have enough materials, mulled wine and mince pies we have a booking system this year, so you can book a timed session. Have a look at our Facebook page for the link or contact us on stiperstones.events@naturalengland.org.uk. Simon Cooter and the Natural England staff at Rigmoreoak.