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National Trust rangers in Derbyshire share how they look after wildlife in the winter and how you can too

National Trust rangers in Derbyshire share how they look after wildlife in the winter  and how you can too

"Leave out food for hedgehogs - they love meaty cat food and hedgehog biscuits "
Sally Collier, ranger at Hardwick Hall

Teams at National Trust properties across Derbyshire are preparing the grounds in their care for winter – and they’re encouraging locals to do the same in their own gardens!


The conservation charity looks after nature throughout the year but as the nights start to draw in vital work gets underway to help protect wildlife in Derbyshire.


At Hardwick in Chesterfield, conservation is underway in the woodland to create habitats for birds and other wildlife. Tree thinning will take place, as well as the removal of non-native plants, to improve the variety of plant and animal life in the area whilst making it more resilient to climate change. Nest boxes will also be cleaned out and the deadwood piles will be be left out for hedgehogs and other animals to hibernate in.


Over at Ilam Park and Dovedale, work is taking place to tackle ash dieback, a fungus which can infect trees. The area will be carefully assessed over the coming months whilst infected trees will be felled to remove the risk and allow other native trees in the area to thrive.


Sally Collier, ranger at Hardwick Hall, has also revealed her top five tips to help locals in Derbyshire care for the wildlife in their gardens too:


  1. “Leave out food for hedgehogs - they love meaty cat food and hedgehog biscuits
  2. As the nights get colder, birds that visit your garden will need extra nourishment to keep them warm. Fat balls are a great source of energy and easy to make – all you need is suet or lard and bird seed mix
  3. Let your garden go wild. Undisturbed wild areas in your garden make the perfect spots for wildlife to live, rest and keep dry in, as the weather starts to change. This could be a hedgehog house full of leaves, a bug hotel, or even a compost heap for toads
  4. Look after your nest boxes. Birds don’t hibernate and they use a lot of energy to keep themselves warm at night. Clear out any nest boxes now so that birds can take shelter in them as the nights start to get cooler
  5. If in doubt, speak to a professional. If you spot anything unusual and you’re not sure what to do, then your local rescue centre or National Trust ranger will be able to offer support.”


Sally Collier, ranger at Hardwick in Chesterfield, added: “The places in our care are full of life, from the rich variety of land to the diverse and species of wildlife within them. We work hard throughout the year, in all weathers, to protect the countryside, ensuring that all nature and wildlife have safe and healthy places to thrive whilst looking after these areas for future generations.


“With the clocks set to go back and the days and nights about to become a lot cooler autumn is a busy season for us rangers and our outdoor volunteers as important conservation works gets underway.


“There are lots of simple ways people in Derbyshire can help in their own back gardens. That’s why we’ve revealed our top tips when it comes to helping nature thrive this autumn, so everyone can get involved!”


The National Trust is an independent conservation charity, funded through memberships, donations, legacies and commercial operations.


To find out more information about National Trust’s conservation work, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/midlands-nature-tips