‘Bug Boy’ is to come to next month’s Final Gathering
TV WILDLIFE presenter Nick Baker will be visiting the North Pennines next month to celebrate the end of a community initiative that has seen more than 700 volunteers sign up to help keep watch over the area’s animals and plants.
After a successful three years, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership’s WildWatch project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), is drawing to a close.
Celebrating over 20,000 recordings
The project was set up to get more people out and about recording wildlife information in and around the North Pennines in a bid to understand more about the area’s animals and plants. With just three months to go, more than 20,000 sightings have been recorded.
In celebration of WildWatch’s achievements, a Final Gathering event is taking place at St John’s Chapel in, Weardale, where Nick will be talking about his passion for conservation and recalling some of his most memorable encounters with wildlife.
“It’s an amazing place”
Nick, who is the Vice President of Butterfly Conservation and a passionate naturalist, said: “The North Pennines is an amazing place, with an abundance of wildlife – as this project has proved.
“Galvanising people into getting out and about to record what’s going on on their patch is no mean feat. You have to both enthuse people and educate them – something that WildWatch has done admirably. Without these volunteers, not just in the North Pennines but across the whole of the UK, we wouldn’t have the understanding of the natural world that we now do. I’m very proud to be part of this final celebration.”
All of the data collected during the lifespan of WildWatch has been shared with our local record centres ERIC in the north east and CBDC in the north west. Before the project was set up there were large areas the North Pennines that had no data for even common species such as toads or frogs.
The project aimed to gain understanding of the species living in the variety of habitats that make up this special landscape, from its vast moorland through to its flower-rich hay meadows. WildWatch is helping fill the gaps in knowledge of what lives where and the data will be used for conservation purposes long into the future.
“Surpassed all expectations”
Sam Finn, WIldWatch project officer, said: “The success of the project has surpassed any of our expectations, and that’s largely down to the enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers who have taken what they have learned on our training courses and used those skills in the field.
“And what better way to thank those 700-strong wildlife lovers than with an end of project thank you party and a guest speaker who is one of the best-loved nature enthusiasts in the country.”
Although December will see the end of the project, the legacy of WildWatch will continue. Three independent wildlife groups have already been established after meeting through WildWatch and their passion to learn more about the wildlife of the North Pennines is sure to continue to inspire others.
Sam said: “This is exactly what we wanted. We always knew this was just a three-year project but we hoped that by setting the ball rolling, people living in the North Pennines would take up the mantle and form their own groups that will hopefully continue looking after our landscape for years and years.”
There are still tickets available for the event which takes place between 5.30pm and 9pm on Saturday October 18th. To find out how to book a place, or for more information, visit www.northpenmnines.org.uk or call 01388 528801.
Released: 25 September 2014