Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to create new wildlife reserve

A NEW ‘super reserve’ for wildlife is to be created in Stroud.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) manage several nature reserves for wildlife in Stroud’s Golden Valley, however, it is key funding from Biffa Award that has recently enabled them to think outside the box.

GWT staff and volunteers have been focused on teaming up with local landowners to enhance crucial pockets of land in between nature reserves, in order to create a vast, connected haven for wildlife – particularly insects.

Grazing sheep and ponies are a key part of GWT’s land management strategy, and essential to keeping the valley’s species-rich grasslands free of scrub and encouraging wildflowers to thrive.

Not only do the animals help to clear unwanted vegetation that may prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, but they also push wildflower seeds into the ground with their hooves and are perfectly adapted to access the steep slopes of the valley – where human or mechanical intervention would be extremely difficult.

Recent funding has enabled GWT to expand its conservation grazing programme in the Golden Valley – installing almost 4km of livestock fencing and four new water troughs. It’s also covered staff time to check livestock and ensure animal welfare is the highest priority.

Alan Sumnall of the trust said: “For us, connectivity is key. In order to create a wildlife-rich landscape that’s resilient against future climate and environmental change, there needs to be a dramatic increase in the amount of land managed for wildlife in the county. The nature reserves we care for just aren’t enough.

“This means working outside the boundaries of our reserves with farmers and landowners, sharing resources and knowledge. Biffa Award hasn’t just helped communities of insects to thrive in the Golden Valley, it’s also brought together a community of people passionate about working for the county’s wildlife.”

The once-extinct large blue butterfly is just one of the species that will benefit from this connectivity work – with hopes that it will spread out from its reintroduction site at Daneway Banks and establish additional populations in the valley, improving the resilience of the species.

As well as funding from Biffa Award, this work has also been generously supported by the Royal Entomological Society (RES) and Cotswold National Landscape’s Cotswolds Champions programme.

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