Out and About: November Conservation Stories
by Nick Marriner
Our conservation team is always busy – working with farmers, schools, gardens and community groups to enhance the landscape of the Chilterns. This summary showcases a few key projects this past season- with big thanks to our partners and all our volunteers for their hard work. Thank you all!
Shedding light on the Horsenden Brook chalk stream
Volunteers working with Chiltern Rangers and the River Thame Conservation Trust have opened up the banks along a 200m stretch of river to let more light in, encourage in-channel plants to colonise, increase flow and improve spawning habitats for Brown Trout. Horsenden Brook is a chalk stream rising from the Chilterns AONB escarpment and feeding the River Thame. This is a fantastic partnership between the River Thame Conservation Trust, Chiltern Rangers, Chalk Cherries and Chairs and three farms from our central Chilterns Farmer Cluster.
Box mowing for wildflowers
The National Trust demonstrated their box mower to the 18 farmers in the Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster who are looking at ways to better manage their growing network of wildflower margins. They are looking for a way to remove the cuttings when they mow. This would reduce the nutrient load in the soil, creating better conditions for chalk grassland plant which like a poor soil. This has given the farmers food for thought about a potential cluster machinery share and they’ll be exploring this further.
A boost for the Duke of Burgundy
Chilterns New Shoots, our youth conservation group, did a fantastic job with the National Trust at Smalldean Bank improving the habitat for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. They’ve been cutting back and controlling the scrub levels to create the optimum levels of light and shade that this rare butterfly loves.
Chilterns Champions Awards scrub bash:
Chiltern Rangers brought corporate groups and individual volunteers together for a big scrub bash at Sands Bank. 100 inspired school kids also took part in a separate schools’ scrub bash day. Both pupils and adults got stuck in with tree loppers and other tools. It’s amazing how much an energetic group can get done in a day, and how great a burger and cake can taste afterwards! This tied in with the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Chiltern Champions Awards for outstanding contributions to conservation. We’d like to thank each and every one of our volunteers- the awards ceremony was our small way of saying thanks or the amazing role volunteers play in caring for the Chilterns.