Wanted – Wildlife Volunteers (June 2014)

Wanted – Wildlife Volunteers (June 2014)

The Rangers at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest are looking for volunteers to help record the vast array of plants and animals in the 800-acre Park.

The Park already benefits from regular surveys of its butterfly, dragonfly and damselfly populations, and keeps an on-going record of bird sightings. Now, with the help of additional experts, the Rangers are hoping to broaden their knowledge of the Park’s many other inhabitants.
“We are organising a 24-hour Bioblitz at Moors Valley on 24 July and would love to bring some new volunteers on board to help discover and record particular species”, said Countryside Education Ranger, Katie Davies. “We are hoping lots of members of the public will also want to join in, but obviously they will need guidance, so knowledgeable experts will be welcome.
“We are also keen to increase the scope of our regular surveys, so we would also welcome support from volunteers who can’t make the Bioblitz but would be keen to get involved with regular survey work.”
Thanks to this regular survey work Moors Valley is recognised as one of the best places in the UK to see dragonflies. The Park has also recently instigated a highly-successful water vole reintroduction programme. “As the third most visited country park in England we have to work extra hard to ensure we balance the needs of our visitors with those of the many plants and animals spread across the Park,” added Katie. “It would be immensely helpful to be able find out more about them. In particular we’d be interested in working with anyone with knowledge of amphibians, mammals and invertebrates – including my personal favourite – beetles. We are also keen to record more of our flora, an area which has never been fully explored.”
For details of how to take part in the Bioblitz or to find out more about becoming a wildlife volunteer at Moors Valley contact Katie Davies on 01425 470721 or email ktdavies@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk
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Editors Notes:

Moors Valley Country Park
The third most visited Country Park in England (1), Moors Valley successfully balances the needs of its visitors with those of its indigenous wildlife. 

Last year over 800,000 people visited the Park’s 1000 acres. They enjoyed activities ranging from lakeside walks and bike rides, innovative forest play structures (2) and a Tree Top Trail (3) to the steam railway (4), Go Ape Tree Top Adventure and Golf Course.

The Park is prized by the local community with stimulating play facilities, nationally recognised green exercise initiatives (5), locally-sourced restaurant food and more than 500 events every year. 

It also welcomes 3,000 school children each year from as far afield as Manchester, contributing to their learning programmes and engaging many with the outdoors for the first time.

Day visitors come from a wide catchment area drawn by real value for money and the opportunity for a memorable day out, with a huge number of activities to enjoy in exchange for a small parking charge.

Amazingly, alongside meeting the needs of its visitors (6), Moors Valley remains a safe haven for wildlife. The Park is one of the best sites in the UK for dragonflies (7) and its Rangers have recently undertaken a highly successful water vole reintroduction programme. Other wildlife sightings in the Park have included the Great Bustard, all six species of British reptile, and even a Chilean flamingo!

1. According to Visit England figures, 2000-2011.
2. The play trail with its wildlife-themed wooden play structures was first of its kind in the country promoting natural play in a woodland setting.
3. Moors Valley’s Tree Top Trail is reputedly the first to have been installed in England, back in 1991.
4. The steam railway is the south’s longest fully signalled narrow-gauge railway. With 17 steam engines and two diesels.
5. Moors Valley provides a hub for the biggest Health Walk scheme in South West England (Walking for Health Initiative). Its ‘Pedal Back the Years’ cycling programme was adopted in Cornwall. The Department of Health recognised Activate1000 as a key project in their Healthy Lives South West Region Peer Review.
6. The Moors Valley Rangers act as Community First Responders for South West Ambulance Service, and are trained in use of defibrillators and oxygen. One of few Country Parks in the UK to offer its own First Responder service.
7. Mentioned in ‘Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland’ by Steve Brooks.