Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

The Brecks – a volunteer’s story

I am a mature student studying for a Foundation Degree in Ecology and Conservation Management at Easton College, Norfolk. I have a child and was at the point of considering what I wanted to do with regard to returning to work...

In the past I have mostly worked in office positions but didn’t feel this wasn’t going to tick the boxes for me anymore; so I started to think about what I enjoy and what is important to me. I enjoy being outside and being close to nature. A couple of years ago my child saw a Hedgehog for the first time and I realised that this was rather special due to their declining numbers; I felt that I had the opportunity to re-train so I could be involved in an area where I may be able to play a small part in helping conserve animals and plants – not only for my child’s future, but also for future generations.

As part of my course I am required to carry out work experience; I am fortunate to be doing this with Natural England on the Shifting Sands project in the Brecks. I have a basic knowledge of plants but have lots to learn and the biodiversity of the Brecks makes it the perfect place! Not only am I learning about plants that are new to me but also how and why we are monitoring them – it is important to know what is living in an area where work may be carried out to ensure any rare plants are not put at risk.
So far, I have been helping undertake surveys of Rabbit warrens at sites across the Brecks and vegetation monitoring at Weeting and East Wretham Heaths. In the new year I will be helping to undertake Rabbit counts.

The Brecks are an undulating landscape found in East Anglia straddling south-western Norfolk, north-western Suffolk and a small area of north-eastern Cambridgeshire. It is formed of a chalk plateau covered with sandy soil and is sandwiched between fertile, wooded clay areas to the north, east and south, and free draining peat and silt fens in the west. The Brecks is also situated in the warmest and driest parts of the country, this with the soil types has led to dry heath and grasslands developing. As a result there is an unusual and exciting mosaic of acidic and calcareous grassland, heather rich heathland and conifer plantations which are having deciduous trees added to them.

The Brecks have a gentle wildness to them, they are so peaceful yet there is so much happening within the habitats. When you get down and look among the grasses there are wonderful plants, such as Autumn Gentian at Weeting Heath, and impressive old trees towering over the landscape.  The wildlife is equally exciting - from mammals and birds to the butterflies, moths and invertebrates you have to really search for! You feel a real sense of achievement in finding them.

It is fabulous to be helping on the Shifting Sands project so that hopefully when future generations visit the area they are able to experience the amazing flora and fauna I am.

 

Ann

Shifting Sands Volunteer.

 

 

Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.

 

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