Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust acquire second dedicated rewilding site to boost the recovery of the Island’s nature.
A scheme to support wildlife recovery on the Isle of Wight has been extended with the acquisition of 144 hectares (355 acres) of land.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has just completed the land deal at Nunwell, near Brading. The area will now be rewilded to further protect and support nature.
Rob Oglander, owner of the land on the family-run Nunwell Estate, approached the Trust because of his interest in rewilding and, with funding support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the land has been acquired.
It is the Trust’s second rewilding project on the Island as part of its Nature-based Solutions programme. Little Duxmore Farm, on the outskirts of Havenstreet, was acquired by the Trust in 2020 and is proving to be a huge success already with wildlife bouncing back and a proven reduction in harmful nitrates.
Since 2019, Little Duxmore has seen wildlife bounce back with 36 bird species recorded, including nationally threatened species such as linnet and song thrush. Invertebrates have also made an amazing recovery with 19 butterfly species, including the endangered wall brown, and six of the UKs ‘Big Eight’ bumblebee species recorded on site. Internationally important plants have also been recorded. We anticipate many of these species will also recover and thrive at Nunwell over the coming months and years.
The scheme was set up to demonstrate how nature-based solutions can be used to help mitigate and reduce the impact of nitrates on the Solent from planned housing developments. Nature reserves are created on former intensively managed land, making new habitats for local wildlife and helping nature to recover.
Debbie Tann, CEO of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: “Nitrate pollution is having a detrimental impact on some of our most protected marine habitats and the wildlife they support. It comes from a range of sources, including intensive agriculture, run-off from roads and air pollution and has built up over decades. Around 10% comes from urban sources, including wastewater from houses. Our nature-based solution works by acquiring former farmland, which is currently releasing nutrients into the Solent, and rewilding it to remove the pollution, create space for nature and support nature’s recovery.
“In busy South Hampshire we appreciate there’s a need for new housing and while some proposed local developments are unacceptable due to the detrimental impact on wildlife and protected habitats, some developments are okay with appropriate mitigation in place. By demonstrating ways that this mitigation can be provided we are promoting solutions that deliver the best deal for wildlife and help to achieve our vision for nature’s recovery. We believe we must work with planners and developers to promote sustainable development that gives back to nature more than it takes away.
“Nitrate pollution is only one of the many problems facing our freshwater and marine habitats. Alongside our Nature-based Solutions programme, we are calling for widespread change to protect our waterways and marine environment. We’ll continue to campaign for wildlife protection and against damaging proposals, and we’ll continue to push for stronger policy and regulation so that developments, intensive agriculture, and water companies do more to improve the natural environment.”
Anne Marie Mountifield, Chief Executive of the Solent LEP, said: “This is an important project for the Solent LEP, in working together with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to find solutions for sustainable economic development.
“The Government recently announced its commitment to creating a Nature Recovery Network as part of the 2021 Environment Act; bringing forward the idea that through collaborative partnerships, legislation and funding, we can restore and enhance the natural environment. This scheme does exactly that.
One of the principles behind the LEP's priorities is around supporting our coastal communities, whilst also seeking pioneering approaches to climate change adaptation and decarbonisation. This project supports these endeavours by providing much needed housing whilst negating harmful toxins and providing more space for the natural habitat."
The Trust is committed to rewilding carefully targeted areas to contribute towards the Nature Recovery Network. Around 80% of the Isle of Wight is devoted to agriculture and farming is an important part of the local economy and nature recovery network. Targeting rewilding on poor-quality agricultural land, provide huge benefits for wildlife, water quality and soil health with little impact on food production.
In fact, the recent National Food Strategy report – a Government-commissioned independent review into our food system – found rewilding just 20% of the UK’s least productive farmland would only reduce the UK’s food calorie production by 3% but help make major strides toward the recovery of the natural environment.
The Trust will continue to work with partners on the Island to champion farming with nature; ensuring farmers are supported to adopt wildlife-friendly methods and rewarded for embracing financially sustainable business models that deliver for farming, food production and the environment.
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