Amongst the tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic there are glimmers of positivity. The lockdown has opened many more eyes to the wildlife and nature on our doorsteps - birds seeming to sing louder, mammals appearing bolder, amphibians more abundant. Proclamations of ‘nature making a comeback’ circulate on mainstream and social media, and it’s inspiring to see the natural world being embraced as a solace during this frightening time.
However, this comeback is a product of attention, not of action. Our wildlife has always been there, hiding in the sidelines - trying to find a home in increasingly smaller wild spaces. Confined now to our own much smaller spaces, the natural world has floated to the top of our collective attention and we realise how greatly we need it. Because when our busy lives grind to a halt, nature is what’s left to give us comfort, joy and distraction.
But you already knew that. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust members are a community who care deeply about the natural world and understand its value. You are passionate about saving our wildlife and restoring our wild places. And it’s because of you that Yorkshire’s wildlife is slowly making a comeback...
Turning the story around for willow tits
As spring continues to unfold, blue tits are busy building their nests, chirping noisily and darting in and out of trees and bushes. Alongside great and long-tailed tits, they're relatively common visitors to our bird feeders, gardens and parks.
But this family has a sibling whose fortune hasn't been so golden. The willow tit is the UK’s most-threatened resident bird - we’ve lost a shocking 94% of them since the 1970s, and they are now extinct in the south of England. Willow tits like to stay in one place and prefer old industrial areas full of scrub and young woodland; areas not usually considered worthy of conservation. They’re at grave threat of disappearing altogether.
Because of you, our Back from the Brink project is starting to rewrite the story for willow tits in the Dearne Valley, where the last stronghold of the species remains. We’ve worked with partners to learn more about them and what they need to thrive, and then used this knowledge to enhance and create over 250ha of urgently-needed habitat (that's 250 rugby pitches!). The numbers of breeding pairs of willow tits are rising - from 21 pairs in 2018, to 30 pairs in 2019!
A safe haven for wildflowers
These botanic jewels are fast disappearing before our very eyes. Do you know that, devastatingly, we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows?
But your support means we can look after wildflower meadows across Yorkshire - a last safe haven for many rare species. Brockadale nature reserve in West Yorkshire is home to more than 350 unique plants, for example, while Wheldrake Ings near York is one of the finest floodplain meadows in the country.
Managing these meadows to ensure our wildflower species survive and thrive is a year-round job, admirably aided by our hebridean sheep and highland cows. Because of you, these habitats are still being created and curated - and thanks to our conservation grazing herds, that’s happening even while we’re inside.
Inspiring the next generation of nature’s leaders
Thanks to you, we’ve been at the heart of the story of wildlife’s recovery in Yorkshire for almost 75 years, but there are still many chapters to unfold. Through our Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders’ programme, we are inspiring and training passionate and committed young naturalists, who will lead the way and speak up for our wildlife for decades to come.
Your support unites these young people with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and gives them the tools and experience to launch careers in (or in support of) the green sector. Because of you, the next generation have the skills they need to start taking action now - when it is needed the most urgently.
As Sir David Attenborough wisely said:
“No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”
Helping people to start their own relationships with nature means that our collective voice and actions to protect it will grow ever stronger.
The story continues…
We are so grateful for you and the support you give us! It’s because of you that we are achieving all of this for wildlife in Yorkshire, and much, much more besides. But we still have a long way to go.
The Coronavirus lockdown has meant that we have had to stop all our outdoor work, except that which is vitally needed to keep people and animals safe. Plus, we’re losing funds that we desperately need.
Your continued support ensures that we can be ready to take more action for wildlife when we get back outside. Thank you.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to give more to wildlife this summer please donate to our Wildlife Recovery Fund.
In these increasingly uncertain times, wildlife needs our support more than ever. It is only through coming together that we will continue to heal it.
With our nation discovering the beauty, wonder and solace of our natural world, please help us turn this glimmer of positivity into a beacon of hope! Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places need us now more than ever.
Quote at top of page: @mattbrierley on Twitter