National Trust volunteers have planted over 2,000 native trees there as part of a big conservation project.
Introducing the Stepping Stones project
Stepping Stones is a landscape-scale conservation project. It’s aiming to improve the area, restoring habitats and linking them together, thereby creating wildlife corridors.
Volunteers have planted wildlife-friendly saplings such as elder, holly, hawthorn and rowan. These trees will give nectar, berries and shelter for birds and other wildlife in the future and they will create a corridor that connects areas for wildlife.
Wildlife corridors are critical to wildlife
The idea of wildlife corridors is that wildlife can move through an area, because the corridors link up areas of habitat so they can get from A to B – almost like their own motorway network, or railway system.
This project is necessary because the area – like so many others – has lost many hedgerows and trees in fields. This is because of agricultural practices which have changed over time.
Patches of woodland have been cut off from each other – so species such as dormice get stuck in one area – they need hedgerows to move through an area. Less scrub and thicket have meant less breeding habitat for songbirds.
So planting long strips of native woodland – very wide hedgerows – have created new habitat which link up other areas.
This plan will help strengthen the network of woodland corridors
The ultimate idea is to strengthen the network of woodland habitat in the area. This really will help wildlife move about safely – they will have somewhere to nest and rest, too, and it will make the landscape look even more beautiful for us all to enjoy!
The World Land Trust is a conservation charity that works with local conservation partners all over the world. It is an amazing charity and one of my favourites.
One of things it has is an Action Fund. This is something people who care about conservation can donate to, and what it enables the Trust to do is to put the donations into action fast if a piece of vital wildlife habitat is in danger of being lost. The Trust can work with partners on the ground and ensure that the habitat is purchased and saved for wildlife and for local people living in the area.
The Action Fund was put into action recently; and as a result, there’s a natural safe habitat for the incredible 1,000 mature black-and-chestnut eagle. There are fewer than 1,000 of these left in the world, so very few indeed.
But they now have a natural safe haven in Ecuador!
Scientists have already recorded 344 plant species, 152 bird species, 57 amphibian, 47 mammals and 11 reptiles in the area so it is full of wildlife.
It expands a key corridor- the Sangay-Podocarpus Connectivity Corridor – and it sits between two national parks in Ecuador. Last year the corridor became Ecuador’s first corridor – is covers 1.4 million acres of diverse, fragile ecosystems, and includes a bit of another reserve – the Podocarpus – El Condor Biosphere Reserve. WLT works here with NCE. Animals such as the jaguar and bear will be able to roam safely.
The connections go further, because north of the corridor is 200 mile long spine of reserves and national parks along the eastern Andes, connected by reserves backed by the World Land Trust in the llanganates-Sangay Biological Corridor with Fundacion Ecominga.
The networked protected areas cover about 4 million acres!
How was this money raised to buy this 34,000 acres? In part, by World Land Trust supporters who donated to the Action Fund. It really does make a difference.
It’s a global campaign and it’s dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for countries around the world to co-operate in their efforts to save them.
This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World”.
It was picked to highlight how important it is to conserve and restore the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems which support the natural cycles that are essential for migratory birds to survive and thrive.
The day gives us all an opportunity to discover more about migratory birds and be in awe at their amazing feats.
Migratory birds need networks with stops
Migratory birds travel far. They need to be able to stop to rest and feed and breed. If you like, you could liken it as a journey along a motorway system and every so often, they need to stop for a break to fill their tummies and have a break.
Birds need networks of sites
They need a network of sites along these routes to breed, to feed, to rest and spend the winter. They need different sites and habitats, irrelevant of which country they are in. They can cross incredible distances and over impossible terrains such as deserts and open seas. They cross national borders and soar above any national agenda. What they do need is for countries to co-operate to ensure their routes are kept open and safe for them.
Examples of migratory birds’ routes
The East Asian – Australasian Flyway goes from the Russian Far East and Alaska through East Asia and South-East Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand – 22 countries in all. The Flyway is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations. They need a system of wetlands to rest, feed and build up the energy they need for the next part of their journey.
RSPB has information about the Arctic tern who travels a rather amazing 22,000 miles a year – the longest migration of all – as they move continually between the Arctic summer and the Antarctic summer.
So you can see how important it is that countries work together to give these birds the flight paths they need, with all the facilities along the way.
What can be done at a national/international level:
Increase action globally via environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Africa-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). These are vital to protect migratory birds on their international flight paths.
Creating habitat corridors which are protected and which go across boundaries would really help animals who migrate and fly over national boundaries.
Networks of crucial sites which are imperative to migration needs must be safeguarded and managed properly. Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as described by BirdLife International give migratory birds all they need during their long flights - necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds.
What individuals like you & me can do:
Have a bird-friendly garden with safe shelters and a bird bath. Give them bird food. Put feeders out of reach of cats.
Spread the word about how important it is to protect migratory birds.
Download and use birding apps – it’s a great way to connect to like-minded bird lovers.