Nature knows best say wildlife experts

Species rich hay meadow in front of the Llanerchaeron villa, Ceredigion Wales
Published : 28 Dec 2015 Last update : 29 Dec 2015

Letting nature takes its course when faced with rapid change in environment and landscapes is often a hard choice but the right choice according to a new series of videos produced by National Trust Wales, Natural Resources Wales and other partners.

Nature Knows Best is the theme of a short trailer advertising a series of short films on innovative projects carried out in partnership across Wales.

From Cwm Ivy on Gower in the south to Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia, north Wales, wildlife and environmental experts reveal that dealing with rapid change can be quite scary and taking an approach of minimal intervention requires courage. But, the films also show that where natural adaptation has been embraced then the results have been stunning.

National Trust Wales Wildlife and Countryside Adviser for Wales, Helen Buckingham captures the importance of this natural approach in conserving magnificent meadows on the Ceredigion coast.

" On a UK and Wales-wide basis, these type of meadows are now a really rare habitat - 95% of these grasslands have been lost since the Second World War"
- Helen Buckingham, National Trust Wales Wildlife and Countryside Adviser

She said: 'Their conservation is really important for rare plants and also for other wildlife. It’s a great nectar source for butterflies, bees and other invertebrates.

Incredible rewards

Also in the trailer Hywel Roberts from Natural Resources Wales comments on what an incredible change has occurred to the landscape and the regeneration of rare plantlife at Cwm Idwal in the past 20 years since grazing was stopped.

And Corrinne Manning, Wildlife and Monitoring Ranger with National Trust Gower explains that “while change is inevitable it needs to be embraced” and seeing through a minimal intervention brings incredible rewards because “Nature Knows Best”.


Nature knows best trailer

Letting nature take its course when faced with rapid change in environment and landscapes is often a hard choice but the right choice. Here's the trailer to a new series of videos produced by National Trust Wales, Natural Resources Wales and other partners.


Weather and wildlife review

The release of the Nature Knows Best films in Wales comes after a year which has been another challenging year for wildlife across the UK, with many new issues coming to the fore, say experts at the National Trust as part of its annual weather and wildlife review released today (29 December).
The national review highlights that the extremely variable weather across the UK throughout 2015 has brought challenges and changes such as unprecedented jellyfish invasions.
Matthew Oates, National Trust nature and wildlife specialist, said: 'Every year our wildlife has to deal with our weather’s highs and lows, and this year was certainly no different. This summary illustrates how our wildlife has fared over the last year, but long-term trends show the enormous challenges we face to reverse the worrying rate of decline.'
'This year we’ve seen unprecedented jellyfish invasions. This may be due to overfishing and warming seas, which has led to huge plankton booms and reduced the number of predators. We’ve also seen an incredible number of dolphins, porpoises and sharks, including the stranding of a fin whale on Northern Ireland’s Port Stewart Strand.'
However, a very positive note has also been struck with thousands of people turning up from April to October to take part in 24 BioBlitzes along the 775 miles of coastline looked after by the National Trust. The 24-hour long wildlife surveys logged almost 22,000 recordings of plant and animal species making it the National Trust’s largest ever survey of coastal wildlife. The results were shared with local wildlife record centres and the National Biodiversity Network to help understand what wildlife along our coasts is changing and how. 
In summary the UK weather and wildlife review says it’s been:

A good year for…

  1. Barn owl populations around the National Trust’s Malham Tarn and in Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales flourished as a result of improved conditions through a reduction in grazing pressure and the planting up of areas of young woodland, leading to good numbers of their favoured prey, the field vole. 
  2. This summer there were huge swarms of barrel jellyfish, particularly around the south west of England and Wales. As sea temperatures rise with climate change and plankton blooms become bigger and last longer, there are likely to be more jellyfish occurring even further north.
  3. A lack of stormy weather or frosts in the early part of autumn ensured it was a fantastic year for autumn tints, boosted further by a superb apple crop. 
  4. Little terns had their most productive year on Blakeney Point since 2011. A second nesting site on the Point which is better protected from an ever increasing risk of flooding seen elsewhere on the Point, only attracted two pairs of nesting birds last year. To attract more, a decoy was established by National Trust rangers which attracted eleven pairs this year.
  5. Another record-breaking year for breeding guillemots on the Farne Islands.
  6. The long-tailed blue butterfly, an extremely rare migrant, returned to the south east, breeding again on the White Cliffs of Dover.

A bad year for …

  1. Puffins, which this autumn were placed on the Red list of Birds of Conservation Concern, had a poor breeding season on the Farne Islands when their burrows were flooded.
  2. Frogs and toads in the south of England faced a difficult year as many pools dried up over the spring. Natterjack toads, including at Formby in Merseyside, had a particularly difficult time, however the May rains arrived just in time. 
  3. Common wasps.
  4. On the Farne Islands there were 600 less breeding pairs of Arctic Terns this year due to poor food supplies and stormy weather. Arctic terns are on the Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern.
  5. Also on the Amber list are Sandwich terns which had a bad year at Blakeney Point. The birds were already struggling due to a shortage of sand eels were affected further by stormy weather in late June. However, more nested successfully at Scolt Head Island as they laid their eggs earlier. 
  6. It was a disappointing autumn to see fungi due to a dry autumn after a cool, wet summer

Watch the videos

View the full length versions of our 'Nature Knows Best' videos