The Martin Down National Nature Reserve on the Hampshire/Dorset border is set to benefit from the fundraising efforts of a group of conservation-minded farmers. The 15 farms that make up the Martin Down Farmer Cluster have released the Martin Down Farmers Calendar 2023, which features a stunning set of photos of the local area and wildlife found on their farms, with all proceeds going to the nationally important nature reserve for the fifth year running.
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The Martin Down Farmer Cluster is one of three Farmer Clusters surrounding Martin Down National Nature Reserve in the Cranborne Chase area of Dorset and Hampshire. Collectively known as the ‘Martin Down Supercluster’, they cover a total area of 236 square kilometres around the reserve. The supercluster’s farmers work together to create and extend wildlife habitats into the surrounding farmland, supporting wildlife well beyond the nature reserve.
Wildlife on Martin Down NNR and the supercluster farms include rare species of butterfly such as the small blue; threatened birds including turtle dove, grey partridge and lapwing; and a range of arable flora and fauna including orchids, bumblebees, harvest mice and barn owls.
Megan Lock of Fordingbridge-based charity the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) works as the Facilitator for the Martin Down Farmer Cluster, providing conservation advice and wildlife monitoring. She said: “By working together, the cluster farmers can have a much greater impact, linking important habitats across the landscape. Since 2017, the Martin Down Farmer Cluster’s achievements have included planting more than 10km of new hedgerows and increasing pollinator habitat by 50%, installing barn owl boxes, creating 21 turtle dove puddles and ponds, constructing five new butterfly banks, creating habitat for grey partridge, and monitoring hedgehogs, bumblebees, farmland birds, reptiles, harvest mice and turtle doves.
“Our monitoring shows that many species are benefitting. Corn bunting and grey partridge (one of the UK’s most threatened birds) have both increased by 120%. There has been a 28% increase in butterfly species, and we have seen a 31% increase in barn owl breeding attempts.”
The Martin Down Farmers Calendar has become an annual fundraising effort. 2022’s calendar raised more than £600, which has been put towards the cost of a ‘hedge popper’ for removing scrub on the nature reserve to encourage wildlife.
The proceeds of the 2023 calendar will help create new interpretation boards explaining what the farmer cluster is doing to support the unique and endangered wildlife that use the Martin Down National Nature Reserve.
The Martin Down Farmers Calendar 2023 costs £12.50 and is available from the GWCT shop, and the following outlets:
- Cranborne Store
- Cranborne Garden Centre
- Sandleheath Stores
- Stable & Wick Bakery and Farm Shop, Downton
- Martin Community Shop
- Coombe Bissett Stores
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Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
For information, contact:
Telephone: 07592 025476