April: Land and Nature
Caroline, Land and Nature Monitoring Officer
Caroline works for the National Trust as a Land and Nature Monitoring Officer helping to support the places it cares for within the West and East Midlands. She helps to oversee the monitoring of wildlife habitats and provides training on key plants and habitat features to teams of volunteers.
Tell us more about what you do in your role?
The National Trust manages a range of habitats from blanket bog to wood pasture. It is important to make sure that these fantastic habitats are managed appropriately so that they are able to support the plants and animals which depend on them.
The Attingham Estate has a variety of important habitats - perhaps the most obvious is the wood pasture and parkland, home to spectacular ancient trees and specialist wildlife associated with them. Alongside teams of volunteers, we assess areas of parkland on the estate each year, ensuring that the features needed for wildlife are present - in particular old trees and associated deadwood, hollows, tussocky grassland and nectar sources.
A significant habitat at Attingham is flower rich lowland meadow. The flowers are important in their own right but also fantastic for a range of creatures dependant on them. Some, such as the meadows at Ismore have been restored from arable fields. Over the past 5 years, we have monitored their transformation to an established flower rich sward, where uncommon flowers such as great burnet and devil’s-bit scabious thrive.
How does what you do help Attingham’s nature and wildlife?
The work we do tells us about the health of Attingham’s key wildlife habitats be it woods, parkland, hedgerows or grasslands. It helps us to know how rare and vulnerable species associated with these habitats are doing and whether our management is working.
" When I stand in a flower rich meadow it takes my breath away. To find flowers like meadow saxifrage or marsh orchid is so exciting."
In these meadows you might see deep pink betony clashing vibrantly with orange eggs-and-bacon and blue devil’s-bit-scabious – no painting could do it justice. As a nation we have lost huge areas of these special habitats, and the wildlife associated with them is disappearing too. Meadows like Ismore (part of the estate at Attingham) are rare nowadays and they are unbelievably precious! But it’s not too late - we know how to get these habitats back and how to look after them when they come back. The National Trust is determined to restore and recreate these habitats wherever it can and I want to help.
What is the best part of your role?
Being close to nature and sharing the experience with some fantastic volunteers. Exploring some really special bits of tenanted farmland that are often hidden away from the public and bursting with wildlife.