The structure of UK woodlands has changed over time. At Launde Park Wood, the planting of non-native conifer trees in the 1950s, created greater shade and fewer open spaces. This resulted in detrimental changes to habitat conditions for key woodland flowers and birds.
Today, after extensive conifer removal, dappled light returns to Launde Park Wood, which provides a sanctuary to an abundance of wildlife. Fungi, plants, butterflies, birds and mammals, all benefit from woodland that is actively managed to create the best habitats for them to thrive.
Heathland restoration work creates vital habitats for a number of rare plants and animals. At Charnwood Lodge, large tracts of heath-grassland are dotted with heather and bilberry, while wetter areas support a rich variety of mosses, liverworts and fungi. Various moorland moths have been recorded and the heathland edge is a rich feeding habitat for bats, including the rare natterer’s.
Without the right management, heathlands can quickly become overgrown with bracken and scrub that will take over the open landscape.
To ensure our meadows are full of wildflowers in the spring and summer, a lot of hard work goes into managing these sites over the autumn and winter.
At Merry’s Meadows, clearing coarser grasses allows wildflowers such as green-winged orchid and pepper saxifrage to flourish and supports locally rare butterflies such as the small heath. Managing the meadow in the right way preserves a mosaic of habitats and helps a diversity of species to survive, from insects and amphibians, to small mammals and birds.
Our wetland nature reserves provide a vital habitat for thousands of breeding, wintering and migrating birds. At Cossington Meadows, water birds such as gadwall and great crested grebe breed on the reserve and in winter, parties of wigeon and teal are common. Breeding migrants such as redshank and lapwing can be seen and reed bunting and reed warbler nest in the reed beds. The waterside edges are rich with invertebrates, a vital food source for wading birds.
Creating the best conditions for wetland wildlife requires constant work. Seasonal management of wetland features and careful vegetation clearance ensures water birds have ample foraging opportunities.
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This cruise will begin at Whitwell Harbour where the Rutland Belle sets sail for an hour and a half cruise on Rutland Water.