Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust claim nature success stories

Saltmarsh in Lincolnshire
Image caption Lincolnshire has 18% of the saltmarsh in England and it is increasing according to the wildlife trust

A report released on Wednesday about the state of the UK's native species found 60% of animal and plant species studied have declined in the past 50 years.

In Lincolnshire, the wildlife trust said there are challenges ahead, but there is also room for hope.

Paul Learoyd, chief executive of the trust, said: "By working in partnership with other organisations, landowners and farmers, a real difference has been made for our wildlife."

Here are some of those achievements.

Barn owls soar again

The population of barn owls in Lincolnshire has increased from an estimated 400-450 pairs in the 1980s to 900 pairs of barn owls, according the wildlife trust.

Lincolnshire has the most barn owls and the highest density of the bird of any county in the UK.

In 1987, the Internal Drainage Board (IDB), an authority set up to control water levels, put up 16 boxes and attracted eight pairs of owls.

The scheme was expanded and boxes were increased, and by 2009, there were more than 1,000 barn owl chicks.

The organisation also changed its management of grassland near to the drains to benefit the field vole, a barn owl's main prey.

Hedgerow help for butterflies

The survival of the brown hairstreak butterfly in Lincolnshire relies on the county's hedgerows.

Image caption The brown hairstreak butterfly flourish around hedgerows

This species is very rare in the county, according to Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and is reliant on well-managed hedges with lots of blackthorn.

The remaining colonies are isolated and confined to Bardney Limewoods, where the Butterfly Conservation Lincolnshire Branch has carried out monitoring and habitat management.

The trust said the butterfly's recent re-colonisation of Scotgrove Wood at the site has shown to have occurred along restored hedgerows.

Water voles 'widespread'

The water vole has suffered long-term decline in the UK since 1900.

In Lincolnshire, however, they are widespread and the population is one of the most successful in the country.

The Lincolnshire Coastal Grazing Marshes project has been key in helping the animals, according to the wildlife trust.

The marshes they maintain have become important for a number of bird species, and the ditches have become a stronghold for water voles.

Many of the rodents have also been found in the Welland and Deepings area of Lincolnshire.

The IDB and Environment Agency also take care with water vole habitats when carrying out maintenance works which has also contributed to an increase in numbers.

The return of the minotaur

The minotaur beetle had not been seen in Lincolnshire since 2008.

Image caption The Minotaur beetle feeds on rabbit droppings on heathland

The glossy black insect feeds on rabbit droppings and other dung, mainly during the night.

In May, a warden with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust spotted a male and female together at Scotton Common nature reserve, near Scunthorpe.

The trust said the park became one of the earliest nature reserves after it was taken on in 1954.

Rangers have been protecting the last remaining parts of heathland in the area, which is a habitat suitable for the beetle.

Sleepy rodent makes a comeback

The Lincolnshire Limewoods Dormouse Project has had a lot of success reintroducing dormice to the county.

A colony of the creatures, which can hibernate for up to six months, was started in 2002 after the animals became extinct in Lincolnshire.

The UK dormouse population fell sharply after World War II, believed mainly due to a change in farming practices.

The Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve, managed by the Forestry Commission, has seen year-on-year increases in dormouse numbers.

Forestry Commission staff found more than 70 of the protected animals at Chambers Farm Wood, near Wragby, in 2011.

That figure only took into account animals found in boxes but the number is now thought to be much larger.

Lay of the land

More than 55% of chalk grassland and more than 35% of limestone grassland was lost from Lincolnshire between 1940 and 1995.

Image caption Baston Fen is one of the few remaining fenlands in Lincolnshire

However, Life on the Verge Survey volunteers found large stretches of road verge that are still rich in wildflowers, which used to flourish on the lands.

About 150 hectares (370 acres) of restorable grassland has also been identified at the county's RAF bases.

Restoration has also been carried out by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust at Robert's Field nature reserve and Red Hill nature reserve in the county.

Lincolnshire has 18% of England's saltmarsh and despite rising sea levels along the coast, it is continuing to grow.

However, since the 17th Century, approximately 99% of wet-fenland habitats in Lincolnshire have been lost.

Baston Fen, South Kesteven, is one of the few, and largest remaining examples of this habitat.

But after Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust established Willow Tree Fen as a nature reserve in 2009, it said the fenland habitat has increased in the county by about 200%.

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