Yesterday, the Isle of Wight was crowned as an Unesco Biosphere Reserve, making it the seventh UK destination to be awarded this special status. The designation recognises the Island as one of the best areas in the world for managed landscapes and celebrates the positive balance between nature and human activity. This Reserve status covers the entire Isle of Wight, plus the Solent.
Wonderful news for the Wight, but could we be even wilder?
Commenting on the announcement, Jamie Marsh, Reserves Manager for the Wildlife Trust, said: "The designation of the Isle of Wight by Unesco as a Biosphere is fantastic news and gives well-deserved recognition to the unique natural heritage and the love that both residents and visitors have for the Island.
"The Isle of Wight is alive with incredible flora and fauna. From red squirrels and reddish buff moth to stalked jellyfish and seagrass meadows - the Island offers vital refuge for many precious species. Our woodlands are some of the best for wildlife, our chalk grasslands boast hoards of butterflies, our rivers support healthy populations of water vole and you can find dormice nestling in almost every wood and hedgerow.
"As this global award indicates, the natural environment is one of the Island’s greatest assets with the potential to underpin the health and prosperity of our local communities and of future generations. We believe that the Island could and should be a shining example to the rest of the world of how nature and people can support each other.
"However, it’s important to acknowledge that the Island is not immune to the impacts of industry, intensive agriculture, development and climate change. Whilst we can be proud of our record for bucking the trend of decline in many areas, we are still witness to loss – whether it’s the reduction of nightingale or disappearance of small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly".
Jamie continues: "The Wildlife Trust is excited about how this Biosphere Reserve status can help push the natural environment to the front of the agenda and galvanise efforts to fully restore our landscapes and return missing species to the Island.
"We believe that the Island offers the best chance of realising our ambitions for a wilder future, where wildlife can bounce back on a grand scale. We look forward to working with our partners and friends to ensure that the Island leads the way in nature’s recovery."