Earlier this summer, on a warm Saturday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a celebration to mark 30-years since the opening of Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve. The event also celebrated three decades of partnership between the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), and NATS. The organisations created the nature reserve back in 1993 and have maintained it ever since.

Throughout the afternoon, we heard from several guests, who shared their memories and highlighted the accomplishments of the Reserve. As we now look to the future and continue on the ever-important journey to educate and inspire, I am filled with confidence and hope for the next 30 years at the Reserve.

I joined some of the guests for a ‘forest wellbeing’ session, where we experienced meditative and team-building activities under the trees. Other groups went on a guided walk through the woodland, experiencing all the Reserve has to offer. Did you know that it takes just 20 minutes of being outside in nature for the human body to experience a positive physiological reaction? Exposure to natural habitats can reduce feelings of anxiety, stress and anger, and increase mood, self-esteem and relaxation. As they say, “the best things in life are free”, so get out there and experience nature!

Jess (centre) and her HIWWT colleagues at Swanwick Lakes

Of course, I am slightly biased, but it is clear to see why Swanwick Lakes is one of HIWWT’s most popular destinations. There is a thriving habitat here, with a diverse wildlife population. We even welcome guest cattle for periods of the year to help maintain the plant diversity. As well as our hoofed friends, the site is home to over 1,045 species of invertebrates. One of the rarest is the Long-Horned Bee; the female bees use the sunny exposed clay banks to nest in. In addition to the invertebrates, the site is also home to around 70 bird species. The rarest is the Marsh Tit – a small bird with a distinctive sneezing sound call! Listen out on your next visit.

Over the coming months, I am looking forward to providing new ways for NATS employees and their families to engage with Swanwick Lakes and HIWWT. I am also working on expanding our outreach provision into the local community and building deeper relationships with local schools. We will also be recruiting a team of ‘Welcome Volunteers’, to improve the visitor experience. I am so grateful to NATS for their continued support and partnership; our collaborative partnership is at the heart of the Reserve, and this is key to supporting a wilder future.

Images: © Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust 


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