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The endangered English eyebright wildflower and the nationally scarce long-horned bee were amongst the 433 species recorded at Bedgebury’s Bioblitz.
The results show a number of new species not just for the site, but for the county.
Over a 24 hour period in May, visitors and experts worked together to survey and record species of native plants and animals found among the tree collection in the Pinetum at Bedgebury.
The mammoth effort from families and volunteers of every background revealed an astonishing 433 different species living within the Pinetum. The species were recorded over the day and night and ranged from the microscopic organisms living in Marshal’s Lake through to deer species including roe.
The Forestry Commission’s Dan Luscombe, dendrologist at Bedgebury, said:
“We always knew that the huge diversity of tree species at Bedgebury helped support a wide range of unique flora and fauna, however, we didn’t realise quite how ecologically special Bedgebury really is. It’s astounding how many species call Bedgebury home, many nationally scarce. This data is now going to help inform our management of the tree collection.”
The day proved to be a great opportunity not just for wildlife enthusiasts but also for children and families to learn about the wildlife on their doorstep, with volunteers from a range of organisations including included the Friends of Bedgebury, the Kent High Weald Partnership and a number of Kent Wildlife recorders leading activities and displays.
Together all those involved helped discover a number of nationally scarce species including the long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis) which is a declining species living on high quality flower-rich grassland. This bee has suffered from the loss of traditional meadows through the intensification of agriculture and the improvement of grassland. It is particularly fond of red clover, and also likes bird’s-foot trefoil, and both of these were prolific where it was found in the Pinetum.
Two interesting butterflies seen were dingy skipper and grizzled skipper, both declining species and of conservation concern. Unlike the more common grassland butterflies these two are unable to survive in long dense grass that swamps their food plants. Nowadays in Kent and Sussex they survive best on the Downs, and are particularly scarce in the High Weald, making their appearance at Bedgebury all the more exciting.
The wild flower walk unearthed some great finds including English eyebright, Euphrasia officinalis ssp anglica, an endemic species listed ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. It is only known at a handful of sites in Kent and it is therefore all the more important that this habitat within the Pinetum is carefully managed.
The early-risers who joined the dawn chorus walk had the privilege of seeing one of Bedgebury’s star species, the fire crest, close up. Its distinctive bright orange colours draw twitchers from across the country.
A total of 71 species of mosses and liverworts were also found on the day; 20 of them new records for the site. This takes the total now known within the Pinetum to 91 species, and there are likely to be plenty more awaiting discovery.
The day proved to be a great success with more species recorded in a single 24 hour period than ever before, and more is now known about this special corner of Kent.
- ENDS –
1. IMAGES AVAILABLE: High-resolution images from the event are available from Sandra Styles, Forestry Commission, 01580 213049, email@example.com
The images are Forestry Commission Copyright, but are available free of charge for use to illustrate this story only.
2. For more information about Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest please contact:
Sandra Styles, Forestry Commission, 01580 213049, firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit www.forestry.gov.uk/bedgebury
3. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england