The Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership
We believe very strongly in working in partnership with others with common goals and so during the life of the project so far have developed relationships with a whole host of organisations, businesses, charities, volunteer groups and individuals, some of whom are listed below.
To find out how we're doing, we held a seminar in January 2014 and invited a wide range of stakeholders to review the added value gained by working in this way.
As Bright Seeds we are delighted to be associated and be the key supplier of wildflowers and wild bird mixtures to the Space for Nature project.
Family run specialist agricultural seed merchants.
Friends of the Railway Path
The Railway Path from Swindon to Marlborough is a lovely way for walkers, riders and cyclists to access the Marlborough Downs.
Many people come to the area to enjoy the landscape and the plants and animals that live on it, and the Friends of the Railway Path are delighted that the MDNEP is working to improve this special place.
Operation Pollinator (Syngenta)
Syngenta recognise the importance of environmental stewardship and have been involved in several national initiatives over the years ('Buzz Project', 'Operation Bumble Bee', 'Operation Pollinator').
We also have contact with many local farmers in the area, so are pleased to support the aims and objectives of the Space for Nature project.
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
The Marlborough Downs cover an area of Wiltshire that is home to some of the UK's rarest bumblebees including the shrill carder bee and the moss carder bee.
The UK has 24 bumblebee species and sadly evidence shows that a large number of these have declined in range and abundance in the last 60 years. A key objective of Space for Nature is to provide nectar rich habitat across the landscape, and this is essential to support viable bumblebee colonies.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is pleased to be involved with the project that provides practical support to landowners in order to create and restore new habitats on the ground. We have been involved with providing specific land management advice and also in delivering a specialist training workshop.
South West Farmland Bird Initiative (SWFBI)
The RSPB has been working in partnership with farmers in Wiltshire for many years, through the Wessex Stone-curlew Project and the South West Farmland Bird Initiative.
The establishment of the Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership has shown how valuable the environment is to the local farming community, and, just as important, how they want other people to share their enjoyment of the landscape and the wildlife found on their land. The RSPB through SWFBI have been happy to support the Partnership from on farm advice to training events for wildlife monitoring and public open days. The fact that so many organisations, groups and private individuals have come together to take that message to the local community has been the greatest success of the project so far.
Campaign for the Farmed Environment
Through the Marlborough Downs Space for Nature project farmers are working together to improve and link wildlife habitats, creating an ecological network within the local environment. The South West Campaign for the Farmed Environment is delighted to work with the MDNEP, providing wild bird and pollen and nectar seed to farmers who are drilling these plots voluntarily. By establishing these plots across the area, farmers are playing a vital role in benefiting the local wildlife.
North Wessex Downs AONB
The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a unique and spectacular landscape that includes tranquil open downland, ancient woodland and chalk streams in the centre of southern England. Including the Marlborough Downs within its boundary, it is internationally recognised as a special place for wildlife and the communities that live and work there.
The North Wessex Downs team have been working with the Community Outreach Group to host a programme of public engagement events, including walks and talks, volunteer opportunities, educational visits and technical workshops. Expertise has also been given to developing a communications plan and by partners including Flora Locale and the North Wessex Farmland Bird Project. Space for Nature is a valuable project to promote partnership working, a principle that has long been supported by the family of AONBs across England. The North Wessex Downs will help to develop links between the MDNEP and other projects to create a true landscape scale approach. For more information please visit www.northwessexdowns.org.uk or www.landscapesforlife.org.uk.
Swindon Borough Council
The southern tip of the borough of Swindon lies on the Marlborough Downs. The council is always looking for opportunities to improve access to the countryside and is therefore pleased to be involved with this project. A rights of way officer represents the council on the Access Delivery Group which explores opportunities to improve access to the Downs.
Upgrading the rights of way network will help create high quality off road routes between centres of population like Wroughton, Chisledon, and Swindon with the wider countryside. The intended outcome is to enable people to enjoy the Downs whilst gaining an appreciation of the landscape, wildlife and the works undertaken by others who maintain and enhance the countryside.
Butterfly Conservation (Wiltshire branch)
The Butterfly Conservation Society leads the world in recording the distribution and numerical status of both butterflies and moths.
Here in Britain over a thousand volunteer recorders undertake weekly transects from the 1st April to the 30th September each year which information is stored and analysed by the Society and the government's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology; thus informing the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.
Butterflies and moths are so sensitive to minute alterations in temperature and the environment generally that variations in their distribution density can quickly indicate tiny ecological changes. Thus the County Branch have been thrilled to help the MDNEP by undertaking transects on the Downs to ascertain initially the range of species within the area and in the longer term the improving health of the environment, as measures are taken to help wildlife flourish within this far-sighted community of farming conservationists and their volunteer helpers. It has been a particular pleasure with County Council help, to organise walks which help in educating youngsters, ramblers, enthusiasts and members of the MDNEP about butterfly and moth species in their area.
Kennet Valley Carriage Driving Group
The Kennet Valley Carriage Driving Group is part of the Riding for the Disabled Association offering disabled adults the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of driving. Carriage driving offers those with disabilities the chance to enjoy a sport on the same footing as those who are not disabled. It stimulates muscles and joints and gives a psychological boost of the freedom that driving a horse brings.
We have approximately 15 adult drivers with various physical disabilities - some wheelchair users, some ambulant - and also have visits several times a year from Help for Heroes (H4H) who bring small groups of servicemen and women who are receiving therapy at Tedworth House in Tidworth.
In the summer we are very fortunate to be able to use stables on the Manton estates where we can drive across the stunning Marlborough Downs. The tracks and fields are a joy to drive on and offer wonderful views of the Downs and its wildlife that never fail to lift the spirits.