It’s been a very busy few months for Limestone’s Living Legacies. This first year saw lots of people keen to get involved with workshops, bat nights, surveys and guided walks while others have been getting stuck into practical conservation work.
Getting people actively involved with our project is one of our main aims and our free workshops teaching people how to identify and survey for our rare species have been especially popular.
One of our focuses this year was to re-do a countywide Duke of Burgundy survey that was originally carried out in 2014. Following workshops on how to survey for both the adult butterfly and for the caterpillar feeding damage, volunteers have been surveying for Dukes across a number of sites, helping us to get an updated picture of how the butterfly is doing in the county.
Other volunteers have also been out surveying for Adders, the Rugged Oil Beetle and the Rock-rose Pot Beetle – three of our other target species. These surveys are also helping us get a better idea of how these species are faring in the Cotswolds.
As well as getting more people involved with surveying and monitoring we’ve been running various family events to introduce people to the special species that inhabit Cotswold limestone grasslands. Our bat and moth nights have been a fantastic way to bring people closer to these rarely seen nocturnal species, while themed family fun days have got children and their families out searching for bumblebees and butterflies.
As the community engagement side of the project has been getting well underway so has the practical conservation side. Our Conservation Officer, Julian, has been working with local landowners and partners, advising them on managing their grasslands, in particular for our target species such as Marsh Fritillary, Pasqueflower and Greater Horseshoe Bat. This is vital to achieving our other main aim - to restore, manage and connect up areas of unimproved limestone grassland. By working with other landowners and creating more areas of suitable habitat for our rare and threatened species, they will have more opportunities to move throughout the landscape and colonise new areas.
In addition to advisory visits, we have also provided free training workshops for landowners and land managers on managing and restoring limestone grassland. By bringing in expertise from our national partners, Buglife, Plantlife, Bat Conservation Trust and Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the workshops highlighted how even small changes to grassland management could benefit a whole range of species.
A lot of practical conservation work has also taken place this year. With the help of local volunteer groups, work such as scrub removal, scrape creation and caterpillar foodplant planting has taking place at a number of sites to help species such as the Rugged Oil Beetle, Duke of Burgundy, Juniper and Large Blue. To date, a total of 224 days of volunteer time has been given to the project across work parties, surveys and help with events which has been fantastic and hugely appreciated.
We have also been able to facilitate a change in land management at Rodborough Common, one of the largest commons in Stroud. Where the cattle all used to roam freely across the common, there are now temporary electric fenced paddocks. Thanks to the support of the National Trust who own the common and the Commoners, grazing is now being targeted at areas that are becoming dominated by fast growing grasses and scrub. With this more controlled grazing, delicate wildflowers will be able to re-establish and scrub will be kept at the right level, creating more suitable habitat for our rarest and most threatened species.
BftB Cotswolds Community Engagement Officer