|Teresa Dent speaking|
I spent a pleasant evening yesterday with farmers and assorted others, around 70 in all, celebrating one year of the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA). We were privileged to have Poul Christensen, Chairman of Natural England, Stephen Moss the broadcaster and Teresa Dent, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s CEO and Chair of the MDNIA) speaking to us. There are 12 NIAs across the country, trialling “landscape scale” conservation, but this particular NIA is the only farmer led one, so very much a bottom up approach is being followed.
There was a great sense of enthusiasm in the room, with around 41 farmers being involved, working together over some 25,000 acres of land to connect important habitats and create new areas for species. Jemma Batton, from Black Sheep countryside management, very ably “herds” all these farmers in a collective direction, up-dated the audience on what has been achieved so far. New ponds created, crops planted to produce bird seed over-winter, large areas surveyed and lots of nest boxes put up for a range of species is just a flavour of what has been taking place.
There is much attention being paid to these NIA’s, not least from Government, so let’s hope they prove to be a successful format for the future.