Dobcroft Heritage Intact News Nature

When is the best time to plant a tree?

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Answer: 50 years ago. The second best time is today.

This truism also applies to caring for green spaces and conserving nature reserves. 

Analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has suggested that the amount of farmland, forests, gardens and greenfield land lost to housing development each year has increased by 58%.

Loss of natural habitat is a major factor in the decline of flora and fauna species and mass. 

The UK has suffered a 97% loss of meadows and grasslands since 1940.  A recent study suggested that 40% of all insect species are in decline and could die out in the coming decade.

It has never been more vital to protect the green spaces that remain to provide connectivity and a valuable refuge for wildlife. 

Urban nature reserves, such as Dobcroft, in the heart of the Ingol Community in Preston, are an excellent facility for outdoor learning for all ages. Studies have shown that people benefit from being outdoors. 

New research from Fields in Trust demonstrate that parks and green spaces across the United Kingdom provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits. This has never been more important than now as COVID-19 continues.

Why is Dobcroft so important

Globally catastrophic events are becoming an alarmingly frequent occurrence. Climate change, unprecedented weather conditions, extinctions, habitat loss etc. are daily features in the news. A recent study suggested that 40% of all insect species are in decline and could die out in the coming decade.

The UK too is suffering losses in wildlife habitat leading to reduced populations and extinctions of our flora and fauna. e.g.

97% loss of meadows and grasslands since 1940.  

28% decrease in overall moth numbers since 1968 with 60 individual species becoming extinct in the 20th century. 

76% of the UK’s butterfly species declined in abundance or occurrence over the past four decades.

With 11% tree cover the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe. 

Wet habitat is threatened nationally, regionally and locally, as ponds are lost to development, intense agriculture, change of land use etc. One third of Lancashire’s native flora is judged to be under threat. Many of them are associated with wet environs. Amphibian and all pond life is threatened too as a result of these practices. 

Closer to home we see the same picture. Much of Preston’s green space has been and is still being lost to development. Most farm ponds and pits are drained and filled in. Those retained are landscaped to fit the new surroundings. 

Dobcroft Nature Reserve is 5 acres of land that has escaped development. The area was selected to be the receptor site for Great Crested Newt (GCN) Triturus cristatus, a protected species. Translocation of the newts to Dobcroft from surrounding areas has been taking place since 2003.

The land is water retentive which makes the ponds and marshy ground ideal for the Great Crested Newt. To safeguard the population it is necessary to maintain the habitat mosaic by applying informed and effective management practice.

Surveys carried out in 2018 – 19 showed that the site is also home to a variety of flora and more species of flowers and grasses could be present in the seed bank. Small mammals, birds and invertebrates have also been recorded, with nearly 400 species identified.

TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) in partnership with OVO Energy kindly donated these wonderful trees to Dobcroft. We are therefore helping in a national drive to reduce carbon, improve air quality, enhance green spaces and aid wildlife.

Jean Foran, Land Management Lead Volunteer, Friends of Dobcroft

Main picture: TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) in partnership with OVO Energy kindly donated these wonderful trees to Dobcroft. We are therefore helping in a national drive to reduce carbon, improve air quality, enhance green spaces and aid wildlife.

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