Supporting conservation across the North East

When it comes to protecting nature in the North East, small actions make a world of difference. That’s why, this year, we’re proud to support more local naturalists than ever before, as they seek to study and protect nature across our region.

The North East is home to a thriving community of naturalists, many of whom contribute immensely to conservation by carrying out a range of inspiring deeds on a local scale. Together, these actions tackle pressing environmental issues, inspire others and increase our collective understanding.

As a small, local organisation driven by inspiring volunteers, we recognise that people power can make a big difference. In 2020, thanks to the Dickinson Memorial Fund, we’re supporting a total of nine grassroots conservation initiatives across the North East, from North Northumberland to South Tyneside. The implementation of these projects will be delayed due to coronavirus restrictions but project planning and research will start now that applicants have received the good news that their applications were successful.

Practical conservation projects

One project takes place at Embleton Quarry Community Nature Reserve where local volunteers are seeking to restore scarce whin grassland and boost botanical diversity.

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“The primary conservation goal of volunteers is to protect all important habitats on site and enhance these wherever possible. The long-term vision is to try and restore to a more open, species-rich grassland site with greater diversity within scrubby areas.

In particular, we are focussing on enhancing and restoring whin grassland and species-rich grassland wherever possible using a combination of scrub clearance by hand (in suitable areas), late summer grassland cuts and aftermath grazing with Exmoor ponies from Autumn through to Spring.

We are confident that the habitat management proposed will result in biodiversity gain.”

Gary Woodburn

At Embleton, funds from NHSN’s Dickinson Memorial Fund will be used to purchase vital tools, providing volunteers with the equipment necessary to improve the site for wildlife.

Other practical conservation projects supported this year involve the construction of Swift boxes at Monkseaton and Felton, and improving water level management at St. Mary’s Wetland.

Research initiatives

While practical conservation delivers immediate benefits for nature, research has the potential to shape conservation action for years to come. This year, we’re also supporting initiatives that aim to increase our understanding of the natural world, including a study on the Farne Islands where researchers from the University of Edinburgh are seeking to assess the impact of human disturbance on breeding Arctic Terns.

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“To date, there have been no studies investigating visitor impact upon breeding productivity of seabirds on the Farne Islands.

This research will discover whether visitor activity affects Arctic tern productivity in any way. The results from the study will help to inform island managers on visitor impact, positive or negative, and will assist them in planning future visitor provision.

This will undoubtedly be beneficial to the wildlife on the islands as visitor activity will be tailored to ensure that this is not detrimental to the success of Arctic tern breeding on the islands.”

Peter Grencis

In the present day, when cooperation between different portions of society is key to protecting nature, NHSN recognises the importance of inspiring others about the natural world. Doing so ensures that nature will be safeguarded in the long-term, for years to come.

Another project supported this year aims to enthuse landowners, in upland Northumberland about moth diversity on their land. This will increase awareness of the species present, inform management techniques and highlight the value of these often under-appreciated invertebrates.

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“The project will work with private landowners who will be able to participate in the surveys, engage with moth recording, and develop a greater understanding of the nocturnal species present on their land.

As part of the project will we also host two free Moth Nights, to allow members of the local community to participate in an evening of moth recording, hopefully capturing their imaginations and interest in recording moths for themselves. This will help to develop a greater appreciation of our nocturnal pollinators and contribute to a larger data set.”

Cain Scrimgeour

Watch for updates

We will be sharing updates on the projects supported by the Dickinson Memorial Fund in North East Nature magazine and on our blog over the coming year. We hope you will join us in wishing those involved ‘good luck’ with their respective projects and we look forward to updating you in the near future.

– Clare Freeman, NHSN Director