Healthy, well-structured (thick and bushy) hedges are much better for wildlife and most ecosystem services than ones in poor condition. Hedge laying achieves this by encouraging new and vigorous growth from a structure made from stems laid along the hedge. It is a wonderful and skilful rural craft. Our efforts at our Bodwannick Manor Farm and Treraven Farm sites won't win prizes but they will do he job.
Steve Gunn, a volunteer at our Home Farm Marsh near Barnstaple put up bird boxes that were a reward for entering the two-millionth record into the well-known wildlife database website called Living Record.
The momentous record, a Common Carder bee, was taken on the 19th May 2021 during one of Steve's regular bumblebee transect surveys at the farm. To-date, volunteers at the site have collected over 1100 separate records and recorded 107 different insect and bird species. Across all the Trust’s sites, there are 2000 records of over 500 different species, with more being added to Living Record all the time.
Steve says that one of the concerns of the volunteer team at the site was being able to determine whether their efforts, together with those of the tenant farmer, were actually enhancing the wildlife habitat. Whilst surveys had been undertaken for some time these were often held as manual records or stored within other conservation organisation’s databases, which were not geared necessarily to providing a singular view across the farm. Living Record has enabled the volunteers to record their sightings and surveys in a much more focused way that should enable trends over time to be distinguished. These can then be used to inform future land management improvements.
For example in 2021, the nectar field within the farm was sown with a seed mix focusing on wildflowers e.g. tufted vetch. Comparing the data held within Living Record for the last two years has shown that bumblebee sightings increased by 33% in 2021 thereby providing comfort that this seed mix has added value.
The concept of wildlife data informing on-site management decisions across over 250 hectares of Gaia Trust land is one that Adrian Bicker, founder of Living Record is pleased to support. “We are delighted to be working with Steve and the Gaia Trust. The Living Record system provides tools that are already used by wildlife trusts, National Trust estates and local councils to collect records and visualise the distribution of key species across properties. With all this information to hand, there is every prospect that the Gaia Trust and their farmers will continue to achieve measurable conservation gains across their sites.”
The Gaia Trust
News and events from the Gaia Trust properties.