“ Membership of the UK's Wildlife Trusts „
There are forty seven regional wildlife trusts in the UK making them, collectively, the largest voluntary organisation dedicated to saving and maintaining wildlife habitats and species. Their goal is clear: to have an environment that is rich in wildlife for everyone to enjoy. With the severe damage done to these islands' wildlife over the past few hundred years, this is an uphill struggle. To help to achieve this, the trusts have pledged to rebuild biodiversity and engage people with their environment. In order for the trusts to function, they need members. This review is about the benefits of wildlife trust membership: both to the trust and to the member. The UK's open spaces, countryside, and its wildlife are under constant threat. With the massive pressure to build new houses due to the country's burgeoning population, any land that's not fully protected may, in the future, be turned into a housing estate. When the land to be used is a leisure resource for local people as well as a haven for wildlife, the result is a lessening of the country's biodiversity and a lowering of people's quality of life. For an extreme example of this, one only has to look at Donald Trump's plans for 'The world's greatest golf course' in Aberdeenshire: 14,000 acres of wildlife rich, scenic coastline, much of which will be destroyed to build 1,000 holiday homes and two hotels. To try to prevent our wild spaces being destroyed, the wildlife trusts safeguard and manage over 2,000 reserves across the country. The trusts' stewardship helps to ensure that these reserves are safe for current and future generations to enjoy. The management side is important too, however. Managing reserves and improving habitat, can help vulnerable species to thrive and spread to other areas, as well as encouraging new species to move in. All of this takes money of course, and this is where membership comes in. Membership fees, and other monies, give the trusts the funds they need to maintain existing reserves and to purchase new ones. Snatching a tract of ancient woodland (say) from underneath the hands of a property developer ensures that this irreplaceable landscape is not lost for ever. Membership is not expensive at £24 for an individual, or £39 for a whole family, and knowing that the money will be put to good use makes the fee even more attractive. As well as monetary aid, the trusts are always on the lookout for volunteers. This work varies, but includes helping out with the maintenance of the trusts' reserves. This can be quite enjoyable as well as being a great way to exercise, meet people, and get some fresh air. Anyone interesting in joining the wildlife trusts can get more information by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org and clicking on the 'membership' button. Here you will be directed to your local wildlife trust's website where full details are given on how to join. I've given plenty of information on what we can give to the wildlife trusts, now what can we get out of our membership? The wildlife trusts aim to keep their members informed of what's happening, both locally and nationally. Every three months, members receive two magazines: the national wildlife trust's magazine and the local trust's magazine. Both are packed with wildlife and trust news, as well as articles on local reserves. The trusts' websites have full details of their individual reserves; how to get there, where to park, and what to see. Some of the trusts run workshops on various aspects of identifying animals and birds; these can be a great way to learn more about our local environment. There are, of course, those fantastic nature reserves to visit. These cover all possible types of environment, from shore, woodland, grassland and heathland, all with something special to offer us, whether it be beautiful scenery or wonderful wildlife to enjoy. Some are restricted to members only so it's possible to have a walk in the countryside, completely away from the crowds, in gorgeous surroundings, perhaps not coming across anyone else during the day. If you're a fan of visiting beautiful places, membership can actually save you money! Many of the trusts have 'flagship' reserves, designed to encourage people to take an interest in the wildlife around them. Such great places such as Potteric Carr in Yorkshire, and Mere Sands Wood in Lancashire have visitor centres and charge an entrance fee. As a wildlife trust member, entrance to these reserves is free. The wildlife trusts do a fantastic job in protecting the UK's special places and wildlife. To do this they need members. I'd encourage anyone interested in wildlife to consider joining their local wildlife trust. Membership has so many benefits, not least the knowledge that you will be helping to protect our natural environment for generations to come.