Each year the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Day's Wild challenge gains in popularity. Thousands of people take part, celebrating and sharing the ways they have engaged with nature, and their observations about our natural world. But, how have Hampshire & Isle of Wight staff been spending 30 Day's Wild? Company Secretary, Clive Chatters, shares with us his second wild week. Read about Clive's first week here.
Day 8: Change in the Hangers
The East Hampshire Hangers are a ribbon of low hills that lie between Petersfield and Alton; their sinuous scarp has long been admired by naturalists, this is the home ground of Gilbert White (1720‐ 1792) the father of English natural history.
Yesterday was spent with friends in the country above Hawkley. Throughout recent history the Hangers have been an intimate mixture of native woods and flowery grasslands. The proportion of each of these elements has waxed and waned with the economics of farming. If livestock numbers drop then the woods advance into the pastures, but in their turn this phalanx of trees will retreat in the face of resurgent cattle and sheep.
In the few short decades that I’ve known these woods they have changed, almost beyond recognition. The great storms of the 1980s tore out thousands of Beeches which were replaced by a vigorous cohort of Ash. The Ash is now succumbing to die‐back disease which is making space for a re‐assertion of Beech and other native trees.
During the same period the flowery pastures have been in continuous decline. Even in the National Nature Reserve there are once magnificent orchid meadows that are now tumbling down into coarse grasslands and scrub. It is unclear what, if anything, will revive the fortunes of the habitats which provide us with picnic sites and spectacular views along with a home for seasonal beauties such as the Greater Butterfly Orchid (pictured).