We manage land for wildlife

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Walborough reserve (credit - Steve Nicholls)Walborough reserve

We want wildlife to thrive, to disperse and recolonise our landscape so that we and future generations can encounter, experience and enjoy our natural heritage. That is why local nature conservation is so important to us.

Avon has a wealth of different habitats including the Severn Vale, the Mendips and the Cotswolds, each of these being home to numerous species.

Special places for wildlife are vanishing. Together with The Wildlife Trusts' network and other conservation organisations we have shifted our focus from just protecting isolated pockets of land to managing much larger areas for wildlife and people - to create Living Landscapes. We are restoring, recreating and reconnecting areas of neglected or damaged habitats by working in partnership with our communities to bring back what has been lost and protect the natural migration, dispersal and re-colonisation of species. The land we manage provides the foundation for this work.

We manage 3,000 acres (over 1,100 hectares) of land in the form of 36 nature reserves

Our reserves have to be managed to make sure they are in the best condition to benefit wildlife and ensure that visitors have a wonderful wildlife experience. These areas of wildlife-rich habitat are actively managed by our conservation team to promote and sustain the species which live there. Most nature reserves are open to the public for free all year round and we offer a programme of events and activities on some of these sites.

Monitoring and Mapping

Image credit: Lorna Wilcox

Surveys and monitoring are carried out for many different reasons but usually it’s to find out what is present, be that a habitat or a species, and what condition that habitat or population of a species is in.

The records we collect allow us to look at changes over time and relate them back to the management we carry out on our reserves, or to other effects such as changes in the wider countryside or unusual weather events.

Extensive surveys of hay meadows, limestone grasslands and wetland habitats have occurred through our Living Landscapes projects. These surveys allow us to identify our best wildlife habitats outside of nature reserves and where we can work with landowners to restore areas and so increase the overall resource available for wildlife.

Surveys on species groups such as birds, invertebrates, protected species and plants are important for establishing if habitats are supporting the species that they should. As well as carrying out our own monitoring, we work closely with groups such as the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, local Bat Groups and the British Trust for Ornithology amongst others. We also work with local groups and volunteers to monitor the wildlife on our reserves.

Image credit: Lorna Wilcox

Living Landscapes 

A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature. It is a new way of thinking about how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people and the economy.

For many years, conservation groups focused on protecting special sites as nature reserves providing safe refuges for wildlife. Much good work was done. But outside these sites, throughout the countryside and our cities and towns space for wildlife has been lost and species have declined on an unprecedented scale. A different approach is needed. The Wildlife Trusts have been championing a new recovery plan for nature, 'A Living Landscape'. As its name suggests, this is about working at the landscape-scale to build resilient networks of connecting ‘green’ corridors – joining-up existing reserves and creating new ones, so that all our wildlife (animals, birds, fish, insects and plants) has the freedom to move across an increasingly human-dominated landscape to find food, homes and to breed.

Our vision is a profitable countryside, enriched with wildflower meadows, interconnected wetlands and well-managed woodlands, where wildlife flourishes for everyone.

We are working to achieve this vision by engaging with local landowners to restore and manage their wildlife-rich landscapes, join up fragmented habitats, and so create a robust and sustainable countryside that will help people and wildlife to adapt to climate change.