A bird's eye view of conservation

Skylarks nest on the ground

Photographs taken from RAF planes and drones are helping us to form the basis of a plan to keep Rodborough Common special for future generations.

On the face of it, military planes and drones are unlikely protagonists in the protection of skylarks, orchids, beetles and wildflower meadows. But at Rodborough Common aerial photos taken from RAF planes in the 1950s and by modern day drones are revealing how human activity has affected the landscape over time.

A series of photos taken between 1950 and 2017 show that the network of footpaths that weave across the common has almost doubled. If the footpaths keep increasing at the rate they have done during recent years, we're concerned that serious damage will be caused to the landscape, vegetation and wildlife.

Bee orchids flower during the summer

Protecting wildlife

The Rodborough Common Conservation Panel, which we're members of, plans to send another drone up to survey the area later this year. The findings will be used to create a plan to manage the increasing demand on the common, which is a Special Area of Conservation and home to skylarks, orchids and butterflies, including the rare Adonis Blue and Duke of Burgundy with its distinctive spots.

Richard Evans, Area Ranger says, 'During the spring and summer skylarks love to nest in the long grasses. We don't want to stop people experiencing the beauty of the common. Where possible we need people to stick to the main paths so they don't accidentally wander into areas where the skylarks are nesting.'

We're working with the Rodborough Common Conservation Panel to look at ways of preventing further paths from being created.

Richard says, 'We're working hard to find ways to prevent people disturbing nature and wildlife without limiting their time in this magical place. Protecting nature and wildlife means that the common will remain special for future generations.'

Only authorised drone use is permitted over the places we look after. More information about our position on drones can be found here.