Caring for Our Local Wildlife by Sustaining Biodiversity

Valuing Our Wildlife

Over this past year many of us have appreciated more than ever the beauty of our gardens and the surrounding countryside and the wildlife they contain and the benefit they provide for our mental and physical health. What we may not realise is how vital biodiversity is to sustaining this natural world and what we can do in our gardens to support it.

The Importance of Biodiversity

Biological Diversity, commonly shortened to Biodiversity, refers to the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the multitude of different ecosystems within which they live and interact.

All species, including us, depend on other species and so maintaining biodiversity is fundamental to their and our survival. We rely on the interaction between the different organisms that maintain the global ecosystem for fresh water, food, fertile soil and clean air, as well as natural resources such as wood, rubber and products derived from animals.

Biodiversity also helps regulate the growth cycles of plants, the mating seasons of animals, and even weather systems.

The Horndean Biodiversity Group

The Group was set up by local volunteers in conjunction with Horndean Parish Council to observe and record our wildlife and to raise awareness of its diversity and importance. It also encourages community involvement in the maintenance and development of wildlife habitats in including parkland, allotments, trees, the urban environment and Conservation Areas.

One of the most important areas of green space that the Group encourages people to manage for the benefit of wildlife is our own gardens and some of the things we can do to create habitats to attract and support wildlife are set out on the My Garden and our Facebook pages.

To achieve its aims the Group works closely with the Parish Council's Countryside Team and local people to

  • Identify and record the natural resources and history of our local area;
  • Survey and identify local habitats and species;
  • Encourage and support community involvement in habitat and species recording and monitoring;
  • Raise local awareness and involvement in biodiversity conservation;
  • Study historical documents and past surveys in order to detect changes in the local landscape, habitats for wildlife and species;
  • Produce reports of surveys and activities of the group and record species on a database.

    We review and update the Group's plans and objectives regularly to ensure that we focus on the current most important issues.

    If you belong to a local Group who would be interested in seeing a presentation about our activities please contact us at this email address.

    Biodiversity Action Plan

    In 2014 the Group published a ('BAP') for Horndean Parish which it had drawn up with the assistance of the organisations and individuals listed at the end of the publication.

    The BAP explains what biodiversity is and why it is important to preserve it for the future of all living things.

    It also contains details of the many different species of animal and plant life that can be found within the Parish and the habitats in which they can be found, including several sites designated for nature conservation.

    Most importantly, the BAP sets out what we need to do to conserve, manage and improve our local wildlife habitats, including those in our own gardens, to support the many rare and important species that depend on them.

    It also includes cross-references and links to further information and other publications.

    The BAP can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF file by clicking on Horndean BAP.

    When viewing the pdf version on a desktop or laptop computer

  • Press the F8 key to bring up the menu bar near the bottom of the screen.
  • Hold down the Ctrl key and click the + or - keys to change the size of the document on the screen.
  • Right-click and select 'Show Navigation Pane Buttons' to show the Navigation Pane Buttons on the left of the screen. Clicking on the second button titled 'Bookmarks' opens an index to the document, sections of which are expanded by clicking on the plus signs on the left of the main headings. Clicking on any item in the index will take you to the relevant page.
  • To view a fully expanded index which is not connected to the document by hyperlinks click on BAP Index

    If you have any problems viewing or downloading the BAP or would like a printed copy please send us an email by clicking on this link.

    Details of ecological surveys on development sites that have become available since the BAP was published are listed in the attached Report.

    Recording Local Wildlife

    As described above, one of the main purposes of the Group is to carry out surveys of our local wildlife and record what we see. One online environmental recording system we use to do this is Living Record which is designed to make it quick and easy to record wildlife by providing users with their own records system and giving them access to a selection of distribution maps. Details of the wildlife found in a particular area are entered in the section of the website covering that location. These records are reviewed and passed on to local record centres and organisations working for conservation who use them to understand species distribution and population trends, identify key sites and habitats, and develop conservation plans.

    To use Living Record you need to register on the livingrecord.net website.

    An alternative to Living Record which is used by the Parish Council Countryside Team for managing and sharing wildlife records is iRecord which enables survey results to be recorded on a computer tablet and loaded directly onto the website.

    Wildlife Talks and Newsletters

    We were delighted that so many residents of Horndean and the surrounding area came to our meeting looking at Local Wildlife Caught on Camera around Horndean that was held in on Wednesday 18 April 2018. Local naturalists, recorders and photographers showed pictures of amazing plants and animals seen locally, many at the Bioblitz on Catherington Down the previous July at which sightings of butterflies and moths were also recorded. There was no charge for attending the meeting but donations of £2 from each person who came helped cover the cost of hiring of the Hall and the refreshments.

    The South Down Group also holds talks about environmental matters for members of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and others interested in local wildlife and the natural environment who live between Petersfield and Portsdown Hill. The Group also issues regular Newsletters which can be seen by clicking on the links on the South Down Group page which also contains details about the Group's other activities including summer walks.

    BioBlitz

    The most recent organised by Horndean Parish Council's Countryside Team supported by the Horndean Biodiversity Group ran from 1pm on Friday 7th July 2017 to 3pm on Saturday 8th. The event was held on to record and explore the diverse wildlife currently living on this site. There was a great turn out of people both young and old who came along to get involved, and numerous species including over 200 moths were seen and recorded.

    The activites carried out over the course of the event included a butterfly walk, bird watching, a mini beast hunt, moth trapping and a wildflower meadow survey.

    A review of the day and a list of the species that were identified are shown in the attached Bioblitz Report.

    This BioBlitz followed the previous year's event held on for which many members of the public joined us to see and record over 160 wildlife species including adders, slow worms, grass snakes, newts, bats, and an assortment of butterflies. Small groups walking the Common during the day also spotted a variety of wild flowers and native trees, and many species that live in water were found by the people doing pond dipping. During the night, a party equipped with bat detectors lead by Nick Knight from the Hampshire Bat Group identified many pipistrelle bats near the pond, and later on the moth traps attracted a good number of these nocturnal insects.

    Horndean's Trees

    The large number and variety of young and established trees that we have in Horndean contribute greatly to the landscape; however, trees provide us with a great deal more than just a pleasant environment.

    Trees are the biggest plants on the planet and are vital to the wellbeing of numerous if not all species. They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming.

    Young trees provide habitation and food for many communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi while the trunks of ancient trees provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, wood boring-beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers.

    Mature oak trees can be home to as many as 500 different species. Three of the most established oaks in Horndean can be found on the green next to Elmeswelle Road, in Loxwood Road and on the roundabout in Merchistoun Road, all of which are shown here in May 2019.

    The canopies of trees trap dust and absorb pollutants and their roots help prevent flooding by absorbing thousands of litres of storm water as well as combating soil erosion. Accordingly, every tree you plant or preserve can make a real contribution to our biodiversity as well as the landscape.

    Information about the history of our trees and ancient woodlands can be found on John Vigay's website.

    Surveys

    In July 2016 we carried out a pond survey on Hazelton Common with the Horndean Parish Council Countryside Team. Details of this event are described on the attached page.

    Lists of moths seen in Horndean during surveys carried out in the last two years can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF file by clicking on Moth Species Survey.

    Details of protected and notable species that have been found on Catherington Down, Catherington Lith and Parsonage Field are contained in the datasets maintained by ('HBIC') which can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF file by clicking on Local Species Records.

    Getting Involved

    Horndean Biodiversity Group relies on volunteers to help with surveys, tree planting, moth trapping and our other activities, so we would be delighted to hear from you if you would be interested in joining us or if you have photographs of local wildlife you would like to share with the Group.

    For more information about our current priorities and activities or to find out how you could get involved with them please email us or find us on Facebook logo.

    Please also let us know if you have any comments on this website or suggestions for information it could include.

    The photographs of the Male Brambling, Goldfinch and Blue Tit were taken by Melanie Thorne and the photographs of the oak trees were taken by Andy Forbes.

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