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Lockdown helps wildlife thrive and gives us a greater appreciation for nature

| District

Being forced to leave our cars behind and walking becoming a more regular part of our daily exercise routine has encouraged more of us to get outside where we’ve discovered a natural world we may not have noticed before.

Wildlife has thrived in our nature reserves and country parks and in our most urban site at Yeovil Country Park, we received reports of several pheasants at Wyndham Hill and deer grazing alongside the River Yeo which is a rare occurrence.

The cygnets at Ninesprings have been the real stars of the show, although it was very disheartening to see the swans lose so many to natural causes so early on. The remaining cygnet fondly known as ‘the magnificent one’ is now watched over by its devoted parents and the adoring public, who alert the rangers of any problems they see. And the swans have company, as there are also families of moorhens and mandarin ducks who are raising their families under the watchful eye of the rangers and public and are doing really well. 

But it’s not just been wildlife that has been able to thrive; road verges have also been full of colour and life. Verges full of cow parsley, buttercups, dandelions, red campion and greater stitchwort provide a much needed source of nectar for the early emerging insects.  Bluebells under hedgerows were indicative of a time past when the hedgerows trees were part of an ancient woodland, now long forgotten and turned into pasture or arable fields. Viewed from the car, often on commutes to work, these road verges may be the only connection that some people have with nature in their daily routines.

During the time when lockdown measures were most imposed in April, we also saw a reduction in the levels of Nitrogen dioxide, which is a vehicle pollutant, compared to the previous years data. We routinely monitor air pollution within Yeovil and there are twenty sites scattered around the town which use diffusion tubes to collect and measure the concentration of Nitrogen dioxide in the air. There has been a 40 – 60% reduction in pollution levels with some of the larger drops seen in the residential areas near the busiest roads.

Speaking about the easing of lockdown measures and visiting the different countryside sites in South Somerset, South Somerset District Council’s Countryside Manager, Rachael Whaites, said: “Now that we are allowed to venture further afield, we hope that this new found appreciation of wildlife will continue with people willing to travel less and respecting the natural environment. We have seen a big increase lately in visitors to our Country Parks and nature reserves and we welcome those who are respectful and considerate.”

If visiting any of our wonderful countryside sites, we offer the following advice;

  • Remain alert and socially distanced
  • Remember to keep to paths
  • Put your dog on a lead when required and comply with the Countryside Code at all times
  • BBQs are not to be used on any of our South Somerset sites for fear of fire risk

Councillor Sarah Dyke, portfolio holder for Environment at South Somerset District Council, added: “Let’s make the best of these difficult times. Nature has been here for us and now it’s our turn to be here for nature so please be respectful when visiting our sites but most importantly, enjoy the surroundings and let’s help to make sure the sites stay clean, tidy and can thrive for everyone to enjoy.”

South Somerset District Council is committed to supporting initiatives that can boost biodiversity and wildlife wherever we can. Proud of our heritage in creating award-winning open spaces – we have been awarded 3 Green Flag Awards at Country Parks and local nature reserves – and continue to work to this standard to provide natural greenspaces for people and nature. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world, so let’s work together to keep it that way.

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