The Stiperstones nature reserve in Shropshire has pioneered conservation models that are now attracting widespread attention
'Futurescapes': how a Shropshire land manager rewrote the conservation rulebook
14th September 2010
With a new coalition government the opportunities for fresh thinking about managing the UK countryside are vast, reports Dan Box. And the Stiperstones nature reserve is providing plenty of inspiration...
It is a long day’s walk along the Stiperstones, a hill-top ridge struck with shattered granite tors that look like broken bones. Tom Wall rests one hand on one of those, Nipstone Rock, and cocks his head. ‘Hear that?’ he says. A bird’s song against the wind can be heard: ‘Skylark!’ Tom grins.
He has good reason to be happy. The skylark population has fallen by two million, say the RSPB, in recent years; more than any other British bird. This small, brown thing tumbling over a stretch of Shropshire countryside is in freefall elsewhere in Britain, yet we have found it here, among the stones.
Tom has worked here for 20 years, retiring only a few months ago as Natural England’s senior manager of the nature reserve that sits at the centre of these hills. In that time conservationists like him have won small victories – the red kite, the bittern, that skylark – and suffered great defeats:
2010 is the United Nations’ International Year of Biodiversity (the range of plant and animal species in any given habitat), yet last year the British government abandoned its target to halt the loss of UK biodiversity by this date. Similarly...
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