Walks, talks, meditation and bingo
The first-ever week to celebrate national nature reserves is underway, with people across the South encouraged to get out and about and explore nature.
National nature reserves boast a unique tapestry of flora, fauna and geological wonders and are home to more than 17,000 species, spanning 106,000 hectares of protected habitat across every corner of England - approximately 0.7% of the country's land surface…
… and there are 9 NNRs in Hampshire and 1 on the Isle of Wight.
National Nature Reserves Week runs from 20-29 May with a series of events across England aimed at getting residents and visitors to appreciate nature more.
Hampshire and the island are holding more events than anywhere in the South East. Many are free, but you might need to book for some.
A couple of events kick things off locally on Saturday 20 May.
There's a guided walk at Newtown NNR, between Newport and Yarmouth, from 10am, learning from a ranger how the National Trust manages Newtown.
From 11, it's Botany Bingo at Old Winchester Hill NNR, but with species instead of numbers. You'll need to find as many of the 40 types of wildflowers and grasses in this rich chalk grassland and marking them on a spotter sheet. Botany Bingo is also free, but you need to book a place.
Back at Newtown NNR on Sunday morning, 21 May, a Wellbeing Walk aims to connect you with nature through meditation and gentle aerobics. Quality time in nature can do wonders for our whole week. Take time out of hectic modern life. Once again, it's free, but please book.
Allison Potts, Natural England area manager for the Thames Solent region, yesterday said:
“We are thrilled to be hosting a unique set of events on these special sites. Everyone is welcome. You don't need anything other than appropriate footwear and an appetite for fresh air!
“For decades, national nature reserves have played a vital role in conserving various species of plants and animals, but also provided an outdoor space for research and education, and opportunities to access, enjoy and engage with our natural heritage.
“The reserves are waiting for you, whether you have never been before, or visit regularly - come and explore these fantastic places during this week of celebration!”
On Thursday 25 May, reserve managers at Old Winchester Hill will guide you across the site, explaining what you can see and how it's managed. Again, free, but booking necessary.
You can give your legs a rest after all that walking with a talk and demonstration on bird ringing at Newtown on Friday 26 May, hosted by the Isle of Wight Ringing Group. Find out why it's done.
Newtown hosts its final event of National Nature Reserve Week on Saturday 27 May - a drop-in session to meet experts in flora, on hand to share knowledge and how to identify species. You'll get a chance to roam the meadows and grasses during the afternoon session.
This new annual 10-day celebration will help to raise awareness of the critical role these reserves play in combatting climate change, boosting nature recovery, and preserving endangered species.
It is hoped that it will inspire a new generation of nature champions and comes as Natural England celebrates the coronation with a new ‘King's Series' of 25 NNR declarations over the next five years, to support nature recovery and meet the ambitions of the Government's Environmental Improvement Plan.
The announcement follows Natural England marking 70 years since the first NNRs were declared last year. Since then, England's national nature reserves have continued to play a crucial role in protecting nature and are now at the heart of a growing nature recovery network - providing homes for different species of animals, birds, and plants to thrive.
Research has shown that NNRs managed by Natural England offer huge value for money, with a wide range of economic, environmental and societal benefits totalling £36 million.
A full list of national nature reserves in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the wider South East can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-nature-reserves-in-england#london-and-the-south-east-nnrs
Notes to Editors:
Looking after Newtown National Nature Reserve by The National Trust A guided walk exploring the nature reserve and hearing from the area ranger how the National Trust manage the reserve Saturday 20 May, 10am Length: 2 miles Duration: 2 hours Price: Voluntary donation requested but not obligatory. Booking required: https://isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk/walks/looking-after-newtown-nnr/
Newtown National Nature Reserve and Old Town Hall, Town Lane, Newtown PO30 4PA Guided Botany Walk at Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve by Natural England Botany Bingo! A chance to explore Old Winchester Hill with one of the reserve team and learn about some of the amazing plants there. There can be as many as 40 wildflower and grass species in this rich chalk grassland, but even if you don't know any names, this walk is all about looking closely and noticing the incredible variety beneath your feet. Come and see how many you can find!
Saturday 20 May, 11am Free, but booking advised: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/guided-botany-walk-at-old-winchester-hill-tickets-633171191077?aff=erelpanelorg Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve, Warmford, Petersfield GU32 1HN
Newtown National Nature Reserve Wellbeing Walk by the National Trust Take time out of hectic modern life for a guided walk through Newtown National Nature Reserve, connecting with nature in a deeper way. Quality time in nature can do wonders for our whole week. There will be mindfulness, meditation, moments to enhance the senses, and gentle aerobics at the end to raise the heart rate, whatever your ability level. Sunday 21 May, 10am-1pm Free, booking required: https://isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk/walks/looking-after-newtown-nnr/
Guided walk at Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve by Natural England Our reserve managers will discuss management of the site and what you can see. Thursday 25 May from 10am Free, but booking required - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/guided-botany-walk-at-old-winchester-hill-tickets-633171191077?aff=erelpanelorg
Bird Ringing Talk & Demonstration at Newtown National Nature Reserve by the National Trust An illustrated talk & demonstration of bird ringing. Bird-ringing talk and demonstration - hosted by Isle of Wight Ringing Group at Newtown NNR. Hear about the contribution bird-ringing makes to our knowledge of local birds and see a demonstration of how it is done. Friday 26 May from 10am-3.30pm Free. No booking required
Newtown Botany drop in at Newtown National Nature Reserve by the National Trust A drop-in session in Newtown meadows with expert staff on hand to share knowledge and ID the flora. Staff will set up in the meadows with equipment and ID guides to show the flora that's in the meadows and share tips for identifying wildflowers and grasses around the reserve. Saturday 27 May from 1pm-4pm Free, no booking required