You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
Blogger: Sammy Fraser RSPB Brecks Community Engagement Officer
A new exciting landscape partnership scheme is coming to the Brecks in the shape of the Breaking New Ground Project; this three year scheme was successfully awarded £1.5million by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will form the umbrella for 37 individual projects.
The aim of Breaking New Ground Project will be to deliver new landscape heritage and community projects in the Brecks area. The project will engage local communities and partners in telling the story of the Brecks and to develop a sense of pride and belonging to this fascinating landscape that will translate into a long lasting legacy of engagement. The scheme will work on a landscape scale by encompassing core areas of the Brecks and will involve a mix of partners including the Forestry Commission, Norfolk and Suffolk Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB and Suffolk County Council as well as a mix of local groups and partners.
As Springwatch fever hits the UK, Wings over the Brecks (which is one of the 37 projects) will be run by the Forestry Commission, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, providing local residents with the opportunity to see the secret lives of unique Brecks wildlife unfold through live video footage at the Forestry Commission’s High Lodge, Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Weeting Heath and at roaming displays run by the RSPB in Thetford and Brandon.
Nest cameras put in place by specially trained volunteers will reveal the nests and behaviour of specialist species such as woodlark, goshawk and stone-curlew. These iconic birds of the Brecks are famous for their elusive behaviour and vulnerability to disturbance so are rarely seen. The Wings over the Brecks project footage will allow everyone a glimpse into their lives and watch their dramas unfurl.
Nightjar by Andy Hay (www.rspbimages.com)
For local residents keen to be involved their local community and the Breaking New Ground schemes projects, Wings over the Brecks will not only be showing fantastic footage but will also provide opportunities to get involved as a volunteer. The project is looking for local volunteers of all ages to help bring to life the nest camera footage to residents and tourists at the display at High Lodge and to assist with the running of the programme of exciting events that will take place to promote Wings over the Brecks and provide opportunities for local people to see some of the Brecks wildlife in their forest and Heathland habitats. There will also be events taking place at High Lodge over the three year period of the project.
Having run community engagement work in the Brecks for over a year now I am passionate about the wildlife and heritage of the Brecks and providing local residents with information and opportunities to access and enjoy it. The Breaking New Ground Project will encompass this and much more, I am really excited to see how the project progresses and to be part of a project that embodies what Futurescapes is all about. So watch this space!
If you’d like to find out more about Breaking New Ground and Wings over the Brecks or you are interested in volunteering as part of the project then get in touch on 01842 753732 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Blogger: Lou Gregory, RSPB Volunteering Co-ordinator, Minsmere
In the world of wildlife, spring is that magical time of new growth, new homes and new families. In our world too, spring is bringing in the new!
This year, for the first time, we are excited to be the new home of BBC Springwatch at our flagship Minsmere nature reserve, nestled between Southwold and Aldeburgh on the beautiful Suffolk heritage coast.
As we welcome the BBC to their new home at Minsmere, the reserve will be in the ‘spot light’ for the next three years, and we’re looking to extend our family by offering an amazing opportunity for people to volunteer and be part of the Minsmere team.
Minsmere is already teeming with life (it is home to 5,600 different species!) but we are anticipating a big increase in visitors this year, all clamouring to see in person the fascinating world of wildlife that BBC Springwatch will have brought to their screens during May and June this year.
We’re looking for enthusiastic volunteers with a ready smile and a passion for wildlife, who can strike up conversations with a wide variety of visitors to the reserve and help them to get the most out of their visit.
You don’t need to be a bird or wildlife expert, just keen to learn, as all necessary training will be provided.
Volunteers are required to commit to working a minimum of five days between 26 May - 30 October 2014. We have a variety of roles throughout the reserve from our busy café and shop to talking to visitors in reception and out on the trails about the wildlife.
The RSPB is the country's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. We have 17,000 volunteers across the UK, donating their time to help save nature – and this year, you could be one of them!
If you are interested in seeing ‘behind the scenes’ of a busy working nature reserve and helping others to enjoy one of the UK’s best loved locations on the wildlife rich Suffolk coast, visit www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering for more information. For an application pack, email email@example.com or call 01728 648281.
Blogger: Lotte Large, RSPB Conservation Team
In the East of England, water is a major issue. It’s fundamental to the environment, the economy, our health, agriculture... to life on earth. What some people don’t realise however is that the East of England is the most water-stressed region in the UK, meaning there isn’t always enough to go around.
An example of this would be at a site called Catfield Fen in Norfolk. The site has an incredibly delicate ecology that is extremely sensitive to any changes in water management. The habitat relies on the perfect balance of acidic rainwater and alkaline ground water to maintain the intricate web of life that exists within the fen.
The habitat is so unique that many species are only found in the very particular conditions of water level and water chemistry found at Catfield Fen and nearby reserves. Therefore, if there is a reduction in the amount of water available from the aquifer underneath the site, the ecology will shift towards more acidic conditions. This could be catastrophic for a lot of the rare and declining wildlife that lives at Catfield Fen.
What is really worrying is that once this change begins it becomes harder and harder to rectify until eventually the habitat is so altered that it will never be the same again. This would lead to a whole array of species finding themselves in an inhospitable environment with very few places they can relocate to. For this reason, the RSPB is seriously concerned about water abstraction in the area adjacent to this jewel in the crown of the UK. Two abstraction licence renewals are currently being assessed by the Environment Agency.
Please do not see this as a black and white conservation vs. agriculture issue; this is about finding an acceptable balance between the protection of an incredibly important and irreplaceable site for wildlife, whilst enabling appropriate cultivation in the adjacent area. Some farmers are already developing water storage reservoirs and we support this work. However, there also needs to be a review of crops that are grown in particular areas to ensure that they are compatible with the wider environment. Salad crops may be profitable, but they can exact a terrible impact on wetland sites if they are grown in the wrong area due to the amount of water required to cultivate them.
However, the issue of sustainable water management is much bigger than this one case alone. The demands on our current supply are many and sometimes those demands come into conflict with one another. We all have a responsibility towards looking after natural resources such as water. We can choose to have showers rather than baths, install water butts instead of hoses and build water reservoirs on land for agricultural needs – these are just a few simple ways we can conserve water. The real key is to manage water for the needs of everyone rather than each interested party competing for their ‘bit’.
We are working with statutory agencies, environmental organisations and local landowners and communities to try to find a way of ensuring that Catfield Fen doesn’t suffer this awful fate. It’s not simple, but it is achievable.
You can do a lot to help, from making choices that save water, to ensuring that others are aware of the issues wildlife is facing from poor water management. The needs of wildlife, agriculture, communities and tourism can all be met, they just need to be managed holistically to ensure that no one loses out. Let’s get the conversation started and start heading towards a solution for all.