John Clare Countryside update by Richard Astle
We are hearing so much at the moment about the crisis that is facing our natural world, fueled by the emotive programmes of David Attenborough and the new “Earthshot prizes” that Prince William is backing.
There is a real sense that we have to act now if we are to have any chance of helping nature recover and avoiding mass extinctions across the planet.
And those extinctions are very definitely not just happening in the coral seas or the rainforests. Right here in Langdyke country we are losing our cuckoos and our swifts all too rapidly. Once common birds are now scarce and many butterflies are far rarer than they were even 20 years ago.
And did you know that the once abundant European eel, which can wriggle its way up into the ponds and brooks of Castor Hanglands as part of its epic voyage from the West Indies, has declined by 94 per cent! Wow.
So, do we wring our hands and hope that Sir David and Prince William can sort it out for us?
Not at all – across the area, fourteen of our parishes have now signed up to create parish nature recovery plans and teams of local people are meeting to discuss what actions we can take locally to restore nature and help wildlife thrive in our villages and across the wider countryside.
Bainton and Ashton residents are creating mini wildlife meadows and planting trees and native shrubs to give winter berries for birds and spring blossoms for pollinators, while the Castor team are looking at meadow creation along Splash Lane.
In Peakirk they are preparing to sow pollinating plants by the village hall and in Glinton there are ideas for creating wildlife meadows along the main roads into the village.
These are all small, but very important steps. The power of this local approach is that residents are leading the way – we aren’t waiting for the Council or a national charity to show us what to do. And as residents we take pride in our countryside and our villages and can keep an eye on what is being planted and manage it in the future too.
Each of these parish plans will need people to help volunteer to plant trees and hedges, create wildflower strips, conduct surveys and manage the sites on an annual basis. If you would like to get involved please email me and I will put you in touch with the team in your parish. You will have the satisfaction of making a difference to your local area and being part of a global effort. If you value nature, this is your chance to make a real difference.
The parish nature recovery plans are part of the overall John Clare Countryside project which involves all the parishes and key organisations such as Langdyke, PECT, Nene Park Trust, Sacrewell Farm, Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts. You can find out more details here
Chair, Langdyke Countryside Trust