What are the most important wildlife species in Wiltshire and where are they? To answer these questions, Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC) has just completed a major project to look at which threatened species had been recorded in Wiltshire.
In collaboration with county species recorders, a list of species that are critically important in Wiltshire – Wiltshire’s Critical Species – has been produced. Perhaps even more excitingly, interactive maps showing where these species have been recorded are now available on the web for all to see.
The Wiltshire’s Critical Species Project was a pilot funded by Natural England through the Species Recovery Programme. Jon Isherwood, manager of Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Record Centre, says: “We are very grateful to Natural England for supporting this project, which has enabled us to carry out some deep analysis of data on our priority and threatened species in Wiltshire and Swindon.
“Our staff, county recorders and workshop participants worked hard in reviewing and analysing the data; out of an initial long list of 268 species that were considered, 133 species were identified as critically important in a Wiltshire context.
“These ranged from still common, but much declined species, such as hedgehogs and toads, to much scarcer species such as curlew, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and the reintroduced Great Bustard.
“This work will provide valuable information for a variety of future conservation strategies and efforts, including community level Neighbourhood Plans and landscape-scale Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
“We hope this work will also help target and encourage more recording effort, which can provide more information to us in the future and add to the county’s environmental evidence base”.
Charles Routh, Natural England, nature recovery senior adviser for Wiltshire, says:
“The government has set some really ambitious targets for nature recovery, including reducing the number of species at threat of extinction. The idea of this project was to understand which of England’s 2,000+ threatened species Wiltshire has a particular responsibility to conserve and enhance.
“Now, for the first time ever, conservation professionals, amateur wildlife recorders, and the wider public can see on an interactive map where the most important species for nature conservation are in the county.
“I hope these resources will inspire and inform species conservation work across Wiltshire, and also encourage people to send in more wildlife records. If you come across any interesting wildlife, using something like the iRecord app on your mobile makes it really easy to submit a record. Submit a photo if you’re not sure.”
A report and the interactive species distribution map are available here: https://www.wsbrc.org/projects/wiltshires-critical-species/
If you come across any of these species, please send in your records through the easy-to-use app at: https://irecord.org.uk/