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It’s been a wildlife-filled year!

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Posted: Wednesday 19th December 2018 by WildBlog

By Naomi Fuller, Avon Wildlife Trust Communications Manager

As 2018 draws to a close and we have a chance to pause and reflect on the year’s activities, we’ve been looking back at how things have been for wildlife across Avon and the ways we’ve helped connect people of all ages with the landscapes and nature around them.

Throughout the year there’s been a steady backdrop of news about the devastating loss of biodiversity – plants, animals and habitats and the complex links between them – both here in the UK and around the world. And individuals, environmental organisations and governments are needing to focus more urgently than ever before on how we can take strong action to allow nature to recover and support abundant wildlife. A restored natural world is not simply good for wildlife but it’s also vital for us to have clean water and air, healthy soils and food and the protection from flooding and drought which we depend on – not to mention the wellbeing benefits of being able to spend time in beautiful green spaces.

In our region we’ve continued working on restoring habitats across large areas of landscape this year, including in the Gordano Valley where we were delighted to find five breeding pairs of lapwings which successfully hatched their chicks in the spring. These ground-nesting birds have suffered a dramatic decline in recent decades – an 80% fall in numbers over the last 50 years. So where once flocks of hundreds of lapwing wheeling around a winter’s sky would have been a common sight, it’s now rare to spot a single bird. Seeing the fragile, fluffy lapwing chicks which hatched, staggering across the wetland ground shepherded by the parent birds was a rewarding sight and a wildlife highlight.

We couldn’t achieve our work without the efforts of the amazing volunteers who give their time and energy throughout the year to help our conservation team, support our office-based staff and take on fundraising activities. This year our volunteers together have given a total of 42,000 hours working for wildlife – a fantastic contribution and seeing their continued enthusiasm is another firm highlight of 2018.

Engaging new people of all ages with the nature and wildlife around them where they live and work is always a rewarding part of the work we do. We’ve worked this year with children and families, young people also with staff from businesses across Bristol, Bath and the wider region. A total of 516 employees from 14 different companies have joined us on 30 employee engagement days learning skills like coppicing woodland, scything grassland and planting wildflowers on nature reserves, urban green spaces and other land right across the West of England.

One employee summed up the experience by saying “I really enjoyed the whole experience and it was so therapeutic to be outdoors in nature and trying to be helpful in it” while another said, “It has made me appreciate the parks and green spaces that we have around Bristol more.” Inspiring people to value and support wildlife is at the heart of what we do so hearing these experiences has been another highlight of this year.

Do make your 2019 a wildlife-filled one by getting involved in our events, volunteering opportunities and campaigns to support wildlife across Avon.

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