60 years of nature conservation and restoration in Wiltshire (United Kingdom)

60 years of nature conservation and restoration in Wiltshire (United Kingdom)

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust was founded in 1962 by landowners and farmers who were concerned about nature due to the intense industrialization of agriculture and pesticide usage. The WWT acted strategically to reach voluntary contracts about critical areas with rare or endangered species. However, such a contract could not guarantee proper protection; thus, the WWT started buying up the land of interest. The first acquired land was a grassland up the Thames River with a vast cover of Fritillaria meleagris. Since then, the WWT has created 42 nature reservations, protecting 1 200 hectares in total. 

Until 1994, WWT focused on acquiring high-quality biotopes with high biodiversity. The largest project led by WWT was grassland restoration in Blakehill Farm in north Wiltshire. This area was formerly used as farmland and a military airport. Due to such usage, all the concrete buildings had to be removed, and the grassland was offered for grazing. The main aim of the project is to restore high-biodiverse grasslands. Methods used for management are scything, cow and sheep grazing and green hay. The usage of green hay is not only cheaper, but it also enhances the occurrence of invertebrates and fungi, which helps the distribution of wild-growing plants and the restoration of the ecosystem. Such biotope creates a suitable habitat for European hares, Barn owl, Eurasian skylark, and Eurasian curlew.

Step by step, the reservation grew larger. In 2018 Trust was able to double the acquisition of arable land. At first, WWT barley was grown at the acquired land to decrease the phosphor levels. Then the land was seeded with grassland plant species. Later on, TTW started the restoration of riverbeds and managed to restore 60 km of rivers in total. Their most current activity is focused on grassland and 1,3 km long brook Bay Meadows near Marlborough. Owing to the WWT, Wiltshire County has the highest biodiversity in the UK, with 135 sites of special interest, 1500 areas of natural beauty and the lowest rate of dying out of bats and butterflies.

Source of information : www.casopis.ochranapřírody.cz

Source of photo: www.biolib.cz