Marlborough Downs Space for Nature wins Wiltshire Life's Conservation Project of the YearThe Marlborough Downs Space for Nature began as one of the coalition government's Nature Improvement Areas - the only one run by farmers. When the three year grant stopped, the farmers decided to continue on a voluntary basis and they have increased the area they cover and are still very active.
Last week they won the Wiltshire Life award for Conservation Project of the Year.
They have a varied programme of conservation work that includes installing a 'necklace' of dew ponds across the downs and supporting the rare tree sparrows with scores of nesting boxes.
The award's judges received a description of their activities: "As an established partnership we have a proven track record for delivering conservation and community projects on the Marlborough Downs."
"Since we got together back in 2012, our project has achieved far more than even we expected. For example, by working together we have created over 70 hectares (175 acres) of flower-rich grassland which supports a myriad of bees, butterflies and other invertebrates."
"On top of this, together we manage a further 75 hectares (185 acres) of rough grassland to provide habitat for small mammals, which also supports owls and birds of prey. Short-eared owls are now a regular winter visitor to the Marlborough Downs, and even harriers are seen most years."
"We are also keen to share knowledge about wildlife, farming and other countryside activities, and the way these interact to shape the landscape of the Downs, and offer a full programme of workshops, community and outreach events, and volunteering opportunities."
Second place in this category went to Baydons Meadow Wildlife Group of Chippenham and third place to Salisbury's Bee City project.
The other two winners from the Marlborough Area were George Gordon's 'Local Hero' award as organiser of the Burbage Christmas Tree Sale. And Marlborough's London Road butchers Sumbler Bros - who won the Independent Food/Drink Producer of the Year category.