Nearly 2000 new wildlife sightings recorded in the New Forest

Common blue butterfly by Ruth Kernohan.

Published Tuesday 21 February 2017

Amateur naturalists have created 1,950 new wildlife records for 143 species in the New Forest as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund supported project in the national park.

The Wildlife Trust is leading surveying and monitoring as a key part of the ongoing Our Past, Our Future programme in the New Forest. Led by the New Forest National Park Authority, 21 different projects like this biodiversity monitoring aim to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills, and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest.

The species recorded include the rare woodland Barbastelle bat; nine protected or notable birds including bullfinch, cuckoo, firecrest and kingfisher; and 10 of the 24 UK bumblebee species.

The project is giving experienced and amateur naturalists, like local surveyors and University of Southampton students and placements, the chance to get stuck in helping monitor how local wildlife is faring in the Forest. Volunteers have undertaken a whole range of surveys, including recording birds, bats, butterflies, bees, dragonflies, damselflies, botanical and hedgerow surveys.  Collectively volunteers have contributed more than 60 days of their time, helping to complete 12 different types of surveys across 23 sites in the first year of the project alone.

Sarah Jackson, Ecologist for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: 'It’s fantastic that so many volunteers have stepped up to help collect data about the wildlife on our doorstep. Knowing how wildlife is faring is vital to knowing how our work to improve habitats is working.'

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are leading all biodiversity monitoring within three of the Our Past, Our Future scheme’s projects: Working Woodlands, Better Boundaries and Nature’s Stepping Stones, run by the New Forest Land Advice Service. They will also be analysing the results from the New Forest Invasive Non-Native Plants project, which is undertaking separate biodiversity monitoring.

Julie Melin-Stubbs, New Forest Land Advice Service Manager, said: 'Many of the sites within the Better Boundaries, Working Woodlands and Nature’s Stepping Stones projects have not previously been surveyed. The data collected not only helps us monitor changes on these sites, it makes a valuable contribution to the species records for the New Forest, helping us understand what species are where.'

If you are a keen amateur or skilled surveyor and would like to take part, there will be more opportunities for getting involved in surveys over the remaining three years of the project. You can register your interest, stating your area of interest or expertise, with Sarah Jackson at Sarah.Jackson@hiwwt.org.uk.

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Notes to Photo Editor:

Common blue butterfly by Ruth Kernohan.

Notes to Editors:

About Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  We’re the leading wildlife charity in the two counties and with the support of our 26,000 members we’re taking effective action to protect our natural heritage. We’re also part of a UK-wide partnership of 47 Wildlife Trusts; together we are the nation’s most active and influential nature conservation partnership protecting wildlife in every part of the UK. www.hiwwt.org.uk

About Our Past, Our Future

Our Past Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focusses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit www.newforest.gov.uk/landscapepartnership

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFSouthEast

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