Conservation is essential to the ethos of Leeds Castle, as our Estate Rangers Ben Byfield and Rob Dixon have recently well-demonstrated. Over the last few months, the Rangers have been carrying out tree safety work, liaising with local conservation groups to enhance greater bio-diversity, and developing nature habitats to make the estate a beautiful place for wildlife to thrive.
“Our work is reactionary to the needs of the estate, but we also have a number of ideas on how best we can really influence the biodiversity of the grounds,” says Rob, Assistant Estate Ranger. “From felling and dead wooding of dangerous trees, to conserving and repairing the near 500-year-old Yew Tree on the Castle Island, we have an ongoing commitment to the conservation of the entire estate.”
“Over the last two months we have started biological recording on the grounds. This involves going out a few times each week at sunrise to record how many breeding birds we have on our parkland. A Red Kite [rare bird of prey] passed by on a survey a couple of weeks ago – which is exciting news for us as Red Kites are quite rare in Kent. And on my most recent survey, I found that we have a pair of nightingales on our golf course. Our breeding bird survey will be strongly influencing our conservation work in the upcoming future.”
The moat, woodland and lakes provide the perfect habitat for all kinds of wildlife and common woodland birds; Leeds Castle is even lucky enough to be home to some wonderful Kingfishers. But for Ben and Rob, there is a lot of ground work that has to be done in order to conserve and maintain the good health of the grounds. The Rangers have also revealed that something they would like to introduce soon is a new visitor walking route through the parkland.
“There are so many hidden treasures at Leeds Castle,” says Ben, Head Estate Ranger. “From our coppice woodlands full of bluebells and our groves of ancient trees, to the quiet reed beds of the Bay Pond and the wild grasslands along the river – it’s all very special. We have big plans to make them even better for our wildlife, and we’re also planning to open up some new walking routes through the woodland so that others can enjoy these hidden treasures too.”
And now the Rangers have exclusively announced that they are searching for volunteers who can assist them with their role at Leeds Castle.
“If you are looking for a practical volunteering role in nature conservation and wish to gain skills in this area of work, then volunteering alongside our ranger team would be a great opportunity to help and enjoy nature. No specialist skills are required, although a good level of fitness and a desire to work outside is essential. This is a great way to get outside, meet new people and get active!”
Training is provided prior to starting the role, and volunteers can help out as much or as little as they feel they are able to with other commitments. If you’re interested in this volunteering opportunity then please email [email protected].