Selborne Landscape Partnership
In 2012 the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) launched five pilot Farm Cluster groups. In response to this, lead farmer William Wolmer approached GWCT to ask for help in setting up a Farm Cluster Group at Selborne. This resulted in the formation of the Selborne Landscape Partnership (SLP) in 2014 with help and support from GWCT and the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).
The group currently has 17 members and spans 4182ha around the village of Selborne - the iconic site of Gilbert White’s C18th pioneering natural history. Group members include 14 farmers, the National Trust, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the Gilbert White House museum. In 2016 the group secured 5 years facilitation funding from Natural England to fund group training and a project co-coordinator to assist the group in moving forward.
Diverse Landscape & Wildlife
Selborne’s varied landscape and wildlife is underpinned by its diverse soil types and land forms ranging from sand and heath, lowland clay, greensand, chalk scarp and clay over cap. This variety was first acknowledged by Gilbert White in the 1700’s. The landscape is dominated by the East Hampshire SSSI woodland hangers and remnant species rich grassland sites which follow the contours of the chalk scarp. Important wildlife associated with the area includes duke of burgundy and brown hairstreak butterflies, lapwing, grey partridge, barn owl, tree pipit, woodlark and lesser spotted woodpecker; harvest mouse, dormouse, great crested newt and a wide range of bat species.
The group has four core themes which they intend to focus on:
- Woodlands and Grassland: to protect, enhance and link existing species rich sites with the wider countryside
- Farm Wildlife: co-ordinated habitat creation for pollinators, farmland birds, mammals
- Soils & Water: best practice soil management to enhance water quality; bank-side management; enhance & connect pond network
- Heritage & Culture: increase awareness of historic environment; develop links with local community
Training is integral to the group’s delivery of their core themes and is a key focus of Natural England’s funding.
In 2014 a training session led by GWCT on how to search for harvest mouse nests led to the group finding over 50 nests in just one day - a fantastic result given that prior to this there was only one harvest mouse record for the entire area. As Gilbert White first identified harvest mouse in Selborne as a separate species, there was great support amongst the group for further research and a second year of surveying identified a staggering 470 nests recorded across 28km squares of the project area.
Group members are especially interested in farmland birds and a recent farmland bird ID training session has enabled many to participate in the GWCT's 2017 Big Farmland Bird Count. Further farmland bird surveys are planned in the future to help tailor farm management decisions. A winter supplementary feeding training session held in January 2016 has resulted in a number of group members undertaking supplementary feeding on their farms and it is hoped that this can be built on over coming years to expand and co-ordinate effort.
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