Banrock Station Vote for Nature
Red squirrels top the polls as the winners of the Banrock Station Vote for Nature to determine how £100,000 will be shared between five species of native wildlife at our places.
As one of the UK’s biggest landowners, we're responsible for caring for a huge amount of nature and wildlife – including places which are home to some of the nation’s rarest species.
The last few years have been really tough on some of our wildlife. Extremes of weather, habitat loss and climate change are just some of the challenges that our native species face. This is why environmentally conscious wine brand Banrock Station asked the nation to decide how their support should be shared between projects to benefit 5 species; Pine martens, Puffins, Red squirrels, Bats and Otters and, after thousands of votes, the results are now in.
Red squirrels will benefit from a £40,000 share of the funds, after emerging as the clear winners with 39 per cent of the vote.
Already almost extinct in southern England, this much-loved species is in serious decline due to squirrel pox carried by invasive non-native grey squirrels. Although red squirrels are still holding out in Scotland, they are now coming under serious threat in much of their territory in the north of England , Northern Ireland and parts of Wales.
Working with local partners, we’ll be using most of this funding to help protect the future of red squirrels in that the north of England – in places such as Formby Point, the Lake District, Cragside and Wallington. Some of the funds will also be used for red squirrel projects such as habitat improvement on Brownsea Island, home to one of the few remaining populations in southern England. We’ll also be installing special feeders, which only red squirrels can access, and cameras to help visitors get a glimpse of the action.
With 21 per cent of the vote, otters came in in second place. Thanks to conservation efforts, otter populations are recovering well and are now once again to be found in most counties. However they still need a helping hand to look after the habitats they need to thrive. Their £25,000 share of the Banrock Station funds will be used mainly to fund trail cameras at a number of our places, which will help us track how otters are using our land. It also means that the public will be able to enjoy watching the antics of these very engaging, but shy animals.
Puffins were a close third place, with 17 per cent of the vote.
Climate change is a serious threat to puffins in the UK, as the sand-eels that form the main part of their diet become scarcer as sea temperatures rise. Falling numbers over recent years have caused concern about the future of these charming birds. The last winter has been particularly tough for puffins and other seabirds, with many being lost during the record-breaking storms. The £15,000 share of the funding will help us to carry out much-needed geolocation studies to see where birds from breeding colonies such as those on Lundy Island or the Farne Islands go in the winter, to understand the challenges and threats they face.
Worthy runners-up were bats, with 12 per cent of the vote. All of the UK species of bats can be found at the places we care for. Most species are vulnerable and several are now very rare, such as the greater and lesser horseshoe, barbastelle and Bechstein’ bats. We’ll be using their £10,000 share of the funds to carry out bat surveys at some of the places we look after to identify how best to improve the local habitat – especially for the rarer species.
Last, but by no means least, was the elusive pine marten, which will also benefit from a £10,000 share of the funding. These shy creatures were once widespread across the UK, but after decades of persecution and habitat loss they are now restricted mainly to Scotland and Ireland. We’ll be installing trail cameras to monitor pine martens at some of the places we care for in Northern Ireland. We’ll also be participating in a feasibility study to assess whether pine martens could be reintroduced in England and Wales.
The Vote for Nature initiative was part of the long-term commitment Banrock Station has to giving nature a helping hand. Since 1994 Banrock Station has contributed £2.5m to 98 environmental projects in 13 countries worldwide.