On 21 November 2013, UCCWG held its Annual Public Meeting. I was delighted to be able to chat to several members, and thank you for your contributions to the group’s work. Those who came along heard a series of impressive presentations detailing the achievements of the Wildlife Group over the last seven years, among them one given by Lucy Roberts of Natural England, thanking the group for its valuable contribution to the process of drawing up agreements for land to be managed under the Environmetal Stewardship Higher Level Scheme (HLS). It’s a testimony to the importance of the group’s work that Natural England was prepared to come along to our event.

Even more gratifying were the maps that Lucy presented, showing the spread of HLS agreements over the Upper Clun. The process is not yet complete, but already well over seven square kilometres of land are covered by HLS agreements designed to conserve valuable wildlife habitat for the birds, plants and butterflies we all care so much about. The agreements correspond well with the sites identified and surveyed by the Wildlife Group, demonstrating that its work has had a direct impact on conservation in the Upper Clun.

So a huge thank you to all of you who contributed to this effort, in whatever capacity – surveys, recording around your home or farm, sending casual records or hosting nestboxes. The success of the group depends on your contributions, and I hope this ringing endorsement of their value will inspire you all to keep up the good work. I look forward to working with you again in 2014.