Wild Futures – creating resilience against the loss of valuable skills

Wild Futures – creating resilience against the loss of valuable skills

 ‘Environmental conservation requires an estimated 30,000 new entrants by 2020 to maintain and protect our countryside, while in forestry, 53 per cent of the workforce is over the age of 40’ Alice Singleton for Farmers Guardian Insight. A career in conservation has not been a popular choice for the younger generation for many a year. It has been a concern of many within the field that it could become a dying trade and the working sector could lose a valuable skill set. However, today it is becoming a sought after career, not only to avoid the 9-5 office job and the appeal of working in the great outdoors but because of the brilliant opportunities available. There is a wide range of entry routes for a career in conservation which is necessary to combat the numerous environmental concerns prevalent in the world today. Volunteering is usually the first step towards this type of career and can be an invaluable experience to gain a broad skill set. Rutland Water Nature Reserve offers the chance to volunteer at an internationally important reserve and become involved with a wide range of projects and habitat management schemes. The reserve also runs a yearlong Trainee Reserve Officer (TRO) post, which I was fortunate enough to be involved in. During my traineeship in 2013 I had a brilliant and diverse year at the reserve helping me to pursue a career in conservation. I never thought that I’d help build a 45 foot hide, drive a dumper truck or fell a tree. The year opened my eyes into other parts of wildlife conservation that I had not...
Tales from the Trainees

Tales from the Trainees

Small hole nest boxes One of our tasks was to build small hole nest boxes with the help of long-serving volunteer Ron Follows and Senior Reserve Officer Lloyd Park. In doing this, we are hoping that the tree sparrow population will increase on the reserve since their recent decline. We built 40 boxes and put them up to replace old boxes that had been pecked at by those cheeky woodpeckers!! Notice from the photos that these boxes are fitted with a metal plate around the hole in order to reduce the impact that the woodpeckers have. But they have their ways, and we saw a few boxes that had holes in the side too…! We replaced these, and this time round, the wood used to make the boxes was slightly thicker. Here’s hoping the nesting birds will have a pleasant stay in their box of choice this spring! (A small hole nest box on a fallen down tree doesn’t stop birds nesting in them which is great to see!) Large hole nest boxes With barn owl breeding season approaching, we made some large hole nest boxes to put up around the reserve. We put them up in various places, both on trees and telegraph poles after having constructed the boxes in the VTC workshop. They were coated in a waterproof, wood-preserving paint and, once mounted, the bottom was filled with wood chippings. If this was not done, barn owls may take a few years to nest in these boxes as they would need to bring in material to ‘furnish’ their boxes themselves. After having seen a few barn owls...
Productive woodland work

Productive woodland work

As you walk around the Nature Reserve at Rutland Water this winter, you may have heard the dulcet tones of a chainsaw and seen plumes of smoke rising.  A lot of our habitat management through the winter months is, as the habitat volunteers call it, dragging and burning!  This could be anything from willow coppicing on the bunds to thinning within our woodlands to various kinds of hedgerow management.  A lot of the material that comes out of this work can be used within other forms of habitat management or to generate an income for the Wildlife Trust. Many logs are stacked into habitat piles Brash piles also creates favorable habitat Many logs are stacked into habitat piles.  These will rot down in the damp dark conditions within the log pile, providing perfect conditions for invertebrates which are necessary for the pollination of plants and are also a vital food source for other wildlife to include small and large mammals as well as birds.  We also spend many of the summer months collecting in timber, sawing it into manageable rounds and splitting into firewood.  This in then bagged up and sold at the birdwatching visitor centre as sustainably produced, local firewood, generating money for the Trust that will go back into funding management on the Reserve.   The brash generated from the woodland management work is also used to form habitat piles and dead hedges.  These create a valuable habitat for invertebrates and mammals as well as a good nesting habitat for migrant birds such as Blackcaps and Willow Warblers.  The resident Robin and Wren will also benefit.  Smaller...

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