Keeping wildlife connected
As a conservation charity, we’ve set some ambitious plans to help wildlife thrive. Wildlife corridors are an essential part of how we’ll do this. By reintroducing hedgerows, wetlands and grasslands, animals, insects, bats and birds are all able to move between one happy habitat to another.
What are wildlife corridors?
Hedgerows, field margins, wetlands and woodland are all ‘wildlife corridors’ and act as a link from one environment to another. They connect individual - and sometimes isolated - habitats, allowing wildlife to move freely and safely between them, without threat from predators or traffic.
“Corridors are about ways to link pockets of different wildlife rich habitats” -Simon Ford, National Trust Wildlife Adviser.
Roads, buildings and arable fields create huge barriers to wildlife. By filling in the gaps and connecting what must seem like an impossible obstacle course, wildlife - both great and small - can move safely from one place to another.
At Ebworth, the Trust has created a new species-rich hay meadow that links two areas of National Nature Reserve limestone grassland, currently farmed by National Trust tenant farmers. Here, the farmers have switched from arable farming on this 25 hectare plot, replacing it with a specific mix of grassland and wildflowers. These grasslands are hugely important for wildlife, such as rare butterflies and moths, grasshoppers, bugs and birds. It encourages them to move freely over this vast area - after all, nature can’t work in isolation.
How bats use wildlife corridors
We’ve been living alongside bats for thousands of years, but being nocturnal creatures, we barely brush shoulders with these covert creatures. Once a struggling species, bats are now protected all across the UK and with the help of ‘wildlife corridors’ and friendly farming, populations are beginning to flourish.
Sherborne Park Estate has seen great success in bat conservation. With 11 different species identified on the Estate, rangers and tenant farmers have been working together to create ‘nature friendly’ farmland. By using sustainable farming techniques, such as leaving uncropped field margins, planting woodland and preserving and creating new hedgerows, they have been able to link the patchwork of different habitats with ‘wildlife corridors’.
Bats have been making good use of the wildlife corridors on the Estate too.
“They rely on them as navigational aids, using the hedgerows and woodland as features in the landscape to help them find their way to and from their roosts and feeding grounds” - Simon Nicholas, Countryside Manager.
They also create plenty of food. Leaving grassy banks encourages a diverse mix of critters which the bats can feed on. Cattle grazing on the parkland also produces dung which is home to the dung beetle - the Great Horseshoe Bat’s favourite food.
Wildlife corridors works hand in hand with our sustainable farming plan. By 2025, we intend to have at least 50 per cent of our farmland as nature friendly. By building bridges and connecting different habitats now, we’re prioritising the secure future of Britain’s native species and ensuring our landscapes will host a rich, active wildlife community.