News | Latest News | Vote for our project in the Aviva Community Fund

21st October 2016

 

Voting has now closed. Thank you to everyone who supported us by voting in the Aviva Community Fund – you helped us reach the finals! Winners will be announced in January 2017.

 

We have entered the Aviva Community Fund to win funds for our Pine Marten Recovery Project. Help us make a difference to the local communities of mid Wales by taking a few minutes to vote for our project.


About the project

The pine marten, a British mammal once common across the UK, is under threat of extinction in England and Wales. The Vincent Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Recovery Project aims to secure the survival of this struggling marten population by bringing a small but significant number of pine martens from Scotland to suitable sites in England and Wales.

The pine marten is part of our rich wildlife heritage. It plays an essential role in the woodland ecosystem and may help in the control of grey squirrels, a pest species that causes much damage in woodlands. The Trust and communities local to the project can work together to help safeguard the future of the pine marten, an iconic native species.

What will the funds be used for?

The first stage of the project involved the transfer of pine martens from Scotland to mid Wales over two years. This stage comes to a close at the end of 2016 and the results have been very positive.

We are currently seeking funding for the second stage of the project, which will take place between 2017-2018. This stage gives community members a chance to become more involved in the project. The Trust will be including a larger network of volunteers, creating opportunities for local schoolchildren and students, and helping develop eco-tourism in the area.

Volunteering

To date, project volunteers have mostly been drawn from the ex-student community of Aberystwyth University. This volunteering has provided them with higher-level fieldwork skills and has enabled some of the key volunteers to go into employment in the field of conservation biology. The Trust wishes to increase and broaden its local volunteer network to take in a wider spread of age ranges, abilities and interests.

Key activities for the volunteers would be focused on monitoring the population spread of the released martens. This would involve radio-tracking the martens and other monitoring techniques, such as collecting scats and fur samples for DNA analysis. Animals may also be identified through remote camera trap images and the Trust would set up a lending library system for camera traps, so that local people can borrow a camera for a week and return it for identification of individual animals.

The results of the monitoring will build a dynamic picture of the movement of martens through the landscape and provide positive feedback about the martens for the volunteers in the local communities. To support these volunteers in the long-term, the Trust would set up a Mid Wales Pine Marten Partnership, dedicated to the conservation of this species and providing a continuing legacy beyond the life of the project.

Education

In order to inspire the next generation of naturalists and volunteers, the Trust will work with three primary schools in the area, enabling the schoolchildren to ‘adopt’ pine martens and follow their progress. The Trust is also looking to provide research opportunities for final year or post graduate students at surrounding Universities.

Eco-tourism

In a challenging economic environment, growing eco-tourism in this area of Wales is vital to its future prosperity. In Scotland, where the pine marten is doing well, there has been a surge in interest from visitors wanting to see pine martens. This is bringing additional income to visitor centres offering viewing hides, as well as to local hotels and B&Bs. There could be the same opportunity in mid Wales.

The Trust seeks to work with initiatives like Natural Mid Wales to develop a network of hides and feeding stations linked with local businesses such as campsites, hotels and other wildlife attractions. These would give both local and visiting members of the public the exciting opportunity to see these elusive animals. Interpretation boards and sculpture trails would also provide further encouragement for people to explore the local landscape.

Why vote?

Financial support from the Aviva Community Fund would be hugely beneficial and enable the Trust to progress with the conservation and community work scheduled for this stage.

Although the Trust is a relatively small organisation, this project represents a significant conservation milestone. Not only can it bring a species back from the brink of extinction, it can also provide lasting opportunities for the local community and inspire people to connect with nature.