Yorkshire-born BBC Springwatch presenter, Lindsey Chapman, has announced her support for Nidderdale’s ambitions to host the biggest ever systematic survey for wildlife in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The nature presenter has become a patron of The Wild Watch, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is hosting its most ambitious citizen science project to date in 2018. The team is offering a series of free professional training for volunteers to help them acquire the natural history skills needed to collect data on threatened species.
The recent news that hedgehog numbers have fallen by half over the past two decades in rural areas, which feed on invertebrates, is a worrying indication of the health of British wildlife.
More than 50% of species are in decline across the UK, many of them common, such as hedgehogs, skylarks and starlings. Nidderdale’s Area of Outstanding Beauty is home to spectacular, and in some cases, threatened wildlife including Curlew, Great-crested newts and Water voles.
Lindsey Chapman grew up in Beverley, East Yorkshire, the trained actress studied Drama and Theatre Arts, before working alongside Chris Packham on Unsprung.
Lindsey said. “This is citizen science but still science, and that’s really important. Only by getting people involved in creating these studies in large numbers do we get a proper understanding of what’s happening in our natural world now, and we need to act. Essentially the citizen science created can go up and up and end up affecting the law of our land. So it’s key to get people involved at a grassroots level.”
The Wild Watch team is inviting families, naturalists, students and volunteers of all ages to come forward to gather information on over 50 species. The data will help decide how best to look after the habitat and safeguard their future.
Alice Crosby, project officer at The Wild Watch, said: “The survey is important because we cannot look after our wildlife if we do not know how they are doing and what habitats they require to flourish. We use ecological modelling in the form of Habitat Suitability Models to identify priority areas where we could improve and even potentially create new habitat for some of our most important species in the future.”
As well as helping to safeguard the wild, The Wild Watch offers an opportunity for people of all ages to reconnect with nature.
Lindsey added: “It’s important to create connections between people and the natural world, the more people understand about it, the more they create memories and connections, the more they’ll want to protect it. That’s key. We need to put people at the centre of conservation and that needs to happen now. There’s a lot of bad news out there but people need to be given the tools and opportunities to do something about it. This kind of project is wonderful for that – it’s what I care about most.”
More details of all events can be found on the AONB website. Places can also be booked https://www.nidderdaleaonb.org.uk/wild-watch-0 or www.thewildwatch.org.uk
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Notes to Editors
1. The Wild Watch is a project of national importance, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will radically improve wildlife knowledge in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The project will focus on 50 threatened local species, working with natural historians and local people to gather information on where our local wildlife lives, and then use pioneering techniques to predict their occurrence across the AONB.
2. The project is led by Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, working in partnership with North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre, the University of Leeds, Natural England, RSPB, Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and is supported by Meopta optics.
3. Nidderdale is one of 46 AONBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that have been designated because of their nationally important landscapes. The Wild Watch means people can play an active part in protecting Nidderdale’s unique and special natural heritage. The project combines the power of citizen science, a dynamic partnership approach and the latest research to gather information on wildlife, reconnect communities to their local natural heritage and pioneer a new way of delivering conservation action.
4. Heritage Lottery Fund - Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFYandH