A fresh face at Gosforth Nature Reserve

The importance of Gosforth Nature Reserve cannot be understated. Recognised for its biodiversity and scientific value, since 1929, the site has acted as a vital refuge for some of the North East’s rarest and most iconic wildlife. A pivotal part of Newcastle’s wildlife corridor and one of the oldest protected sites in the region, the value of the site remains unchanged to this day and we remain committed to managing the reserve as for the benefit of nature. We also know how much Gosforth Nature Reserve means to our members and supporters as a place of learning, enjoyment and relaxation and want to ensure that visitors have ample opportunity to engage with the reserve and its wildlife.

To protect GNR in the face of increased nearby development and growing external pressure, this year, we’ll be creating a new 10-year management plan setting out the actions needed to keep the site safe, secure and in a positive state for wildlife and those who enjoy it. To carry out this important task, we’re delighted to welcome Charlotte Rankin to the NHSN team. A local naturalist with a passion for nature in the North East, you’ll be seeing a lot of Charlotte over the next six months as she speaks with members, supporters and partners to gather thoughts on Gosforth Nature Reserve. For now, however, find out a little more about Charlotte in her own words…

I am a local naturalist and have recently returned to the North East after spending time in Cornwall for my undergraduate studies. Following my passion for nature, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Conservation Biology and Ecology at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter. During this time, I volunteered for community projects that focused on promoting wildlife-friendly practices in urban areas. These projects had a particular focus on urban pollinators and involved both practical conservation work and engagement with local communities. During my final year at university, I conducted a research project focused on bumblebee foraging behaviour in agriculture, using courgette fields as a model crop. This largely involved chasing after bees in muddy courgette fields, but yielded important results to inform habitat management for supporting pollinators in agriculture!

Upon returning to the North East, I became involved with NHSN’s Bumblebees of North East England in Summer 2019. This was an incredibly exciting project to be a part of and I learnt a lot about the history of bumblebees in the region.  I authored three regional species accounts, including the now regionally extinct Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus). This work highlighted the importance of our region’s wildlife recorders and NHSN’s literature over the years in understanding the historical and current picture of species in the North East.

At the end of February, I started an exciting six-month role with NHSN as Project Officer for Gosforth Nature Reserve. My role is focusing on a new management plan for GNR to ensure its positive future for wildlife and for people as a place to learn and enjoy. GNR is a vital aspect of NHSN’s Towards 2029 strategy and it is an incredibly exciting time for GNR. Integral to developing GNR’s new management plan is engaging with others and I am looking forward to meeting NHSN members and volunteers throughout the process. If you see me at GNR please do say hello for a chat!

Charlotte Rankin

We’re thrilled to welcome Charlotte to the NHSN team and look forward to working alongside such a promising young conservationist on the vital task of safeguarding the future of Gosforth Nature Reserve. As a contributor to Bumblebees of North East England, Charlotte’s knowledge and commitment to natural history shone and I am confident she will provide valuable input and plenty of exciting ideas as we move forwards.

In our 2018 supporter survey, you stressed that we should be doing more to provide opportunities for young naturalists to grow and develop. We hope you will join us in offering a warm welcome to Charlotte as she begins work at GNR, and that you will stop to say hi when visiting the site.

Clare Freeman, NHSN Director