Support our Nashenden appeal
Creating a Wilder Nashenden
10 years ago Nashenden was 130 acres of mud. Years of conventional, intensive, arable farming had created a wildlife desert.
Today it is a different story. Nashenden has been regenerated with chalk grassland species. Reptiles, dragonflies, bees, arable plants and farmland birds have started to make this their home. Now we want to improve this wonderful nature reserve and create an even Wilder Nashenden.
Your support will enable us to do the following:
- A new 27-acre field that is secure from disturbance and full of critical plant species for farmland birds and invertebrates.
A series of 5 new ponds spread across 74 acres of grassland and arable land
A new walking path through the centre of the valley will improve access to the site whilst reducing damaging disturbance
Wider, thicker hedges, to help birds like the nightingale
Grazing by sheep and pigs to create diverse, abundant habitats
Your support will allow us to further enhance the 130 acres of rolling fields at Nashenden. It has already come a long way since it's restoration in 2009, but your donation will help us create an even wilder, more diverse Nashenden.
Your support will allow us to do so much more to this important nature reserve.
Ponds and arable weed species have been shown to be vital in increasing the breeding success of turtle doves. This nature reserve has large areas of excellent weedy grassland however it sits in a series of very dry valleys and fresh water is severely lacking in the area. This, added to a level of disturbance by visitors is thought to be the key reason why Turtle doves fail to breed.
By creating several new ponds, and by adding a new circular route around the site we can both increase species rich habitat while also reducing the risk of disturbance for threatened farmland birds.
Every £5,000 will help us create a new permanent pond at Nashenden
Grazing and Management
Our Hebridean and Herdwick sheep are doing a great job at pushing the scrub and bramble back in part of the reserve. Fencing of the arable zone is the priority as this will allow the sheep to graze this area also, allowing wildflowers to flourish across an additional 27 acres.
Once this has been done we can look at reseeding this section of Nashenden. Low intensity grazing from there on should create a fabulous mixed sward of species.
Research at the Knepp Estate in Sussex has shown the amazing results of using pigs alongside cattle and sheep to create bare ground for seeds to spread and water to lay. Nashenden will be one of the first sites to use pigs as natural alternatives to tractor ploughing.
Species at Nashenden
Nashenden is Kent Wildlife Trust's only arable nature reserve and therefore is crucial to farmland species. Find out more about them here
The turtle dove is one of our most iconic birds, but has seen a greater decline than any other British bird. It's numbers have dropped by 94% in just 25 years due to habitat degradation and intensive farming practices.
Turtle doves have been seen and heard at Nashenden, and we know that managing the land in a different way can allow them to breed here. One of the major problems is the lack of water on this dry reserve.
Ponds have been shown to be crucial in helping turtle doves to breed, so installing these new ponds, as well as an increase in arable weeds will create the conditions for them to do so.
Most of us have spent some time craning our neck trying to spot a skylark up in the clouds; it is certainly a bird that is heard before it is seen with it's incredible song, which you can listen to here. Song flights of up to one hour have been recorded!
Sadly it has also seen a dramatic decline in numbers, and is on the red list meaning it is of the highest conservation priority. As a ground nesting bird it is easily disturbed from breeding, and requires a certain level of vegetation.
By increasing the right level of vegetation through conservation grazing, while also reducing disturbances, we can help the skylarks to breed at Nashenden.
The nightingale is another British bird with an iconic song. It is also on the red list, and there are now under 7000 pairs in the whole of the U.K- mainly in the South-East
Nightingales are secretive and require dense bushes and hedgrows in order to thrive. Over time the hedgrows at Nashenden have thickened up, but further work on these hedges, plus creating new hedgelines, combined with reduced disturbances will also greatly benefit the nightingale at Nashenden.
Shrill Carder Bee
The shrill carder bee is probably our rarest bumblebee, now known only from a handful of sites in South Wales and Southern England. It has been recorded at Nashenden, and is one of thousands of insects that will benefit from work at the site, as conservation grazing will greatly increase the area of flower rich meadows for them.
There are already some superb areas of wildflower and arable weeds at Nashenden, and species like the man orchid. Turtle doves love these areas. A new fence on a large 27 acre arable section will allow our sheep to graze on a much wider scale and will allow greater abundance of plantlife at Nashenden.
This will benefit all of the species above and thousands more.
Visitors can enter the reserve by crossing the rail bridge. Marked paths lead from the North Downs Way onto the circular route.
The whole circuit is approximately 3.5km and takes about two hours to stroll around
Checkout our reserve page for more information, directions and accessibility information