A Connected Countryside, a Living Landscape

Living Landscapes lie at the heart of everything we do, bringing nature to people and providing corridors across the landscape along which wildlife can move and spread. By Paul Hadaway, Living Landscapes Team Leader

How many of you visit a nature reserve managed by KWT, the RSPB, Natural England or others, taking the opportunity to view nature close up or catch a glimpse of rare species? Our nature reserves and protected sites are the jewels in the crown of Kent's countryside but they are not necessarily the symbol of a healthy landscape. How would we feel if we were permanently constrained to living within the town we are resident in, unable to move beyond the town boundary due to a lack of safe routes or food? Imagine that and you gain a sense of the challenges facing many British species unable to travel across a landscape fragmented over time and often devoid of the habitats that once supported so much of our wildlife.

A connected landscape

These are challenging times for wildlife and biodiversity in this country and this county but the picture does not have to be as stark as it sometimes appears. Many conservation charities and organisations are now focussing their work at a landscape scale, continuing to protect the key reserves and sites whilst finding new ways to reconnect fragmented countryside, KWT are very much driving this work in Kent, working with partners, farmers, landowners and communities across the county.

We call this work Living Landscapes and it sits at the heart of everything KWT does, bringing nature to people and providing corridors across the landscape along which wildlife can move and spread.

This is done in many ways:

  • Through working with landowners to enhance the land they manage for wildlife, providing highly experienced land management advice
  • Encouraging the planting of hedges, buffering of agricultural fields with flower rich borders, clearance of invasive scrub on chalk grassland areas and promoting better management of flower-rich meadows
  • Working with communities, local authorities and housing associations to better manage gardens, playing fields and other ‘green infrastructure’ through urban areas
  • Managing road verges to provide important habitat corridors for wildlife – KWT manage over 150 Roadside Nature Reserves covering around 100km of road verges in Kent
  • Our water for wildlife project team work to encourage better management of the rivers through the county and work with colleagues in Sussex and Surrey regionally to protect and enhance our wetland environment