Nature’s Stepping Stones
What has been achieved?
Butterflies, bumblebees and birds have been boosted by the restoration of important areas for nature in the New Forest.
The Forest’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) vary from small ponds to woodland and open grassland. They help to buffer and connect natural areas, providing ecological networks and increasing the resilience of biodiversity.
The New Forest Land Advice Service has worked with the owners and managers of grassland, heathland, coastal and wetland SINCs in poor condition. The team worked on 25 sites, and 53 hectares are now restored and being managed well, plus two new areas have been designated as SINCs.
Surveys have shown increases in lowland heathland, acid grassland, fen meadow, valley mire, rush pasture and species-rich meadows. Many of the sites show an increase in butterflies and bumblebees thanks to more nectar-rich flowers being available.
- Restoration work at Avon Tyrrell has resulted in an increase in heathland habitat and the spread of ling heather and other heathland species. Part of this area has now been designated a new SINC.
- Newleaze Copse meadow in Pennington is now grazed with Dexter cattle following scrub clearance. This has resulted in an increase in herbs including tormentil and bog pimpernel has been recorded for the first time. Bats are now foraging over the meadow rather than flying over it.
- Two hectares of fen meadow, rush pasture and scrub habitat have been restored at Emery Down Meadows through willow clearance. Sneezewort, thought long gone in this area, has re-established since clearance, while numbers of breeding birds, butterflies and bumblebees have increased.
- Some landowners have been given management plans, including grazing schemes where necessary.
- Biological surveys have been carried out at sites to monitor the effectiveness of the work. This has included work by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as part of the Biodiversity Monitoring project and by volunteers. Surveys have been conducted on bat, bumblebee, butterfly and bird populations.
The New Forest Land Advice Service will aim to maintain contact with landowners and offer continuing support and advice on any grants available for future management of sites. They will also continue to contact landowners of SINCs that have not been covered by the scheme, using the existing sites as examples of work that can be carried out and the changes that can be made.
Julie Melin-Stubbs – Wildlife and Conservation Manager, New Forest Land Advice Service
Tel: 01590 646696 email: Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org