An official accreditation from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) is being rewarded to station volunteers’ community efforts to boost nature and improve biodiversity at rail stations.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Greater Anglia have partnered up to formally recognise the achievements of the team. The team of ‘station adopters’ aims to create wildlife havens across the Greater Anglia network as part of a new scheme. ‘Greater Anglia Wildlife Friendly Stations Accreditation Scheme’ is led by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and is to later be extended to Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire Trusts, to cover the entirety of Greater Anglia’s network.
NWT has now carried out its pilot stage by surveying four stations in Norfolk. The stations surveyed were Thetford, Brundall Gardens, Cantley, and West Runton, they were assessed on how well local flora and fauna were supported.
These assessments were important for stations as they gave tips and advice for making a more wildlife friendly and also help to spread good ideas around the networks stations
Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, more and more stations in East Anglia are becoming sanctuaries for the local wildlife and have now transformed land equal to 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools into flourishing wildlife gardens.
For the benefit of the community, the team have increased the station garden area by 14% since last year and long developing gardens are still thriving for wildlife. The railway is also increasingly being recognised by ecologists as a ‘green corridor’ as it’s becoming a great refuge for all kinds of flora and fauna.
Recently, a survey showed that a wider range of creatures are visiting the stations, this included many different types of butterflies, slow worms, bats, foxes, deer, a variety of birds, and crucial bees, recording more than 200 species.
Greater Anglia has joined the rest of the rail industry in pledging to make stations across Britain more sustainable.
Chief Executive (interim) of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Kevin Hart said: “The alarming decline in the abundance of wildlife and the plight of species under threat means that just protecting the nature we have left is not enough; we need to put nature into recovery, and to do so at scale and with urgency. We are working to create a nature recovery network across Norfolk – and with fellow wildlife trusts across the UK – to create more space for wildlife.
“This project with Greater Anglia is a fantastic example of how people can transform nature-poor areas into new nature-rich places – and change the way we think about land, seizing opportunities to help nature outside traditional nature reserves.”
Of Thetford the ecologist, Rebecca Evans, said, “This is a fantastic site for wildlife because it transitions through a range of habitats, from diverse planted borders of shrubs and flowers nearest the station itself, moving through areas of grassland, getting increasingly ‘wilder’ until it becomes quite dense scrub and treeline at the end. It is well cared for by a group who have considered wildlife while they maintain the platform, with a compost heap, bird boxes in the more mature trees, feeders and even bird baths that give a constant supply of water.”
Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, “We’re delighted to partner with the region’s wildlife trusts to formally recognise the valuable work of our station adopter volunteers in supporting wildlife and improving their local environment.”
“This is all helping the railway in East Anglia to lead the green recovery from the pandemic by being a much greener way to travel – and our new fleet of trains will contribute even more thanks to their more environmentally friendly features which reduce CO2 and particulate emissions in the region further still and offer a convenient, comfortable alternative to the car.”
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