When thinking about wildlife we have to consider the landscape in which we all live. With a rural parish such as ours, the management of the landscape can have a large effect upon the well being of nature, and agriculture plays a large part in how wildlife friendly the landscape can be.

This parish has been blessed with a wide variety of landscapes. There is broad open arable farmland alongside small pastures and ancient woodland, while ponds large and small contrast with the gently flowing River Itchen. The image below shows how the landscape is made up of a mosaic of agricultural land and wildlife habitats, criss-crossed by the hedgerows that perform a vital role in supporting the wildlife of this parish, and without which there would be little to enjoy. Also visible are the River Itchen, Grand Union Canal and the old railway line, which form important ‘green corridors’ through the parish, allowing wildlife to move around freely.

Gardens and green spaces act as a refuge for wildlife, but for nature to endure space has to be provided throughout the parish and of course beyond. Various schemes exist to encourage responsible management of the rural environment such as the Countryside Stewardship Schemes, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and the RSPB’s Volunteer and Farmer Alliance. These schemes are there to help nature & agriculture to coexist and prevent further deterioration of the natural environment.

With ever increasing economic & environmental pressures being placed upon rural communities, nature can often be neglected. With all our daily activities having an impact upon nature, it is up to everyone to help nature survive. Wherever we live, whether with a small garden or on a large farm, if we can make room for nature then we can help stop the decline of wildlife and also make our own lives richer.

Long Itchington Parish Wildlife Wardens

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