Crucial habitats for birds and bees created at farm

Better Boundaries Project

Published Tuesday 4 June 2013

Crucial habitats for birds and bees are being created at a dairy farm in the New Forest as hedgerows are restored and field borders rich with pollen and nectar are planted.

Parts of the Bisterne Estate near Ringwood are being transformed to become havens for wildlife, such as nesting birds, hedgehogs, butterflies and many other insects. Areas of the farm will also become wildlife corridors linking important habitats across fields and between woodlands, allowing bats to use them as road maps for navigation.

The project has been designed and delivered by the Better Boundaries Project, an innovative pilot run by the New Forest Land Advice Service with support from Natural England.   

In the past few months, over 3,000 metres of hedgerows of hawthorn, blackthorn and other boundary features have been restored and created, native trees such as oak have been planted along field borders to replace non-native conifer, whilst a hectare of land is being transformed into a small copse of oak, maple and hazel trees with a natural pond.

Crucially, pollen and nectar seed have also been planted to try to reverse the loss of wildflower-rich field edges which scientists believe is one of the causes of the decline of bee populations in the UK.

According to the recent State of Nature report compiled by 25 wildlife organisations across the UK, the number and diversity of bumblebees increases rapidly when wildflower, nectar and pollen mixes are provided. The decline of wild plants on farmland is having a knock on effect on insect pollinators which may have far reaching consequences for farming, people and other wildlife.

Environmental Land Management consultant Jane Nordstrom, who has worked with the Bisterne Estate for many years, worked closely with staff and contractors at Bisterne Farms to deliver the project on the ground. Much of the estate is in Higher Level Stewardship, but there were some important features still to bridge with additional work.

Julie Stubbs, manager of the New Forest Land Advice Service, said: ‘Habitat loss has been one of the key factors in the decline of so many species of wildlife. What this project shows is that agriculture and managing the environment for wildlife can work side by side to try and reverse that decline.

‘Over the coming years we plan to  monitor the hedgerows and areas enhanced by the project and compare them to other parts of the farm to see what difference it has made to wildlife. We are keen to expand the project to other interested farms and estates.’

Hallam Mills, owner of the Bisterne Estate, said: ‘We have 4,000 acres of land, about half of which is in the New Forest National Park. This project was unique on the farm, as it brought together the dairy, arable, conservation and sporting enterprises to support the same aim -  improving the habitat for wildlife. Thanks to the great help and proactive work of the New Forest Land Advice Service, farm staff and Jane Nordstrom, the project was delivered on time to excellent standards. The brand new copse and restored hedges already looks very natural on the site. I will be fascinated to monitor progress and to see how the project helps improve the habitat for wildlife. I am sure it will be a great success’

Members of the public can see some of the project work done so far at Bisterne Farms when it open its doors on 9 June as part of Open Farm Sunday.

To find out more about the Better Boundaries Project, contact Julie Stubbs at julie.stubbs@nflandadvice.org.uk. You can also find out more at www.nflandadvice.org.uk. The New Forest Land Advice Service is supported by the New Forest National Park Authority, Natural England, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and The Verderers of the New Forest.

For further details about Open Farm Sunday at Bisterne Manor go to www.farmsunday.org

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Picture caption: (from l-r) New Forest Land Advice Service manager Julie Stubbs, Bisterne Estate owner Hallam Mills and Environmental Land Management consultant Jane Nordstrom inspecting a field which will be transformed into a copse of native trees as part of the Better Boundaries Project.  

Notes to editors

Julie Stubbs, Hallam Mills and Jane Nordstrom are available for interviews on request. Filming opportunities can also be arranged by contacting Communications Officer Sion Donovan on 01590 646639.

About the New Forest Land Advice Service

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 300 businesses.

The service offers:

■ A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley

■ Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups

■ Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area

■ A small grant scheme which can support capital works which benefit the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email enquiries@nfladvice.org.uk

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect

  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639
Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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