Hampshire & IoW Wildlife Trust – Wilder 2023 Conference
Here at Hildon we understand the importance of managing our estate with a focus on addressing climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and contributing to the restoration of the British countryside. We also understand it’s good to be open to learning how to improve our stewardship of the land. I was very excited to represent Hildon at the Wilder 2023 Conference, and learn more to support Hildon's environmental efforts.
Responsible Estate Management: Nurturing Nature at Hildon
Here at Hildon, we consider ourselves fortunate. With a simple turn of the head, we can gaze out over the sprawling 168-acre Hildon Estate. Often we’re lucky enough to glimpse deer, hares, kites, dragonflies and house martins. It's a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. We understand the importance of managing our estate with a focus on addressing climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and contributing to the restoration of the British countryside. We also understand it’s aways good to be open to learning how to improve our stewardship of the land. I was very excited to represent Hildon at the Wilder 2023 Conference, and learn more to support Hildon's environmental efforts.
A Gathering of Minds: Promoting Conservation Through Land Management
The whole event was overseen by CEO, Debbie Tann. The first session chaired by Jamie Marsh from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Jamie Marsh, a passionate advocate (almost native) for the Isle of Wight, shed light on the pivotal role land management plays in conservation efforts. Joining him on stage were Francesca Cooper and Hollie Fallick of Nunwell Home Farm, farmers who are learning and growing their knowledge through hands-on experience. It was great to hear of their learning curve in finding the best ways to manage their estate.
Mandy Lieu, from her expansive 374-hectare estate, Ewhurst Park in North Hampshire, was also part of panel. Mandy has embarked on ambitious projects, including the reintroduction of beavers to the area. Choppy and Hazel, the beavers, are settling in well and contributing to the local ecosystem. Jo Heath, representing Hampshire County Council as a senior lead for the natural environment, shared insights into the council's efforts in conservation. Finally, Allison Potts from Natural England discussed the importance of nature-based solutions for a sustainable future. It was evident that a wilder future hold benefits not only for nature but also for the human inhabitants of Hampshire.
A recurring theme throughout the session was the potential for positive change even if a committed minority takes action. If just 1 in 4 of the population actively participates in efforts to restore nature, we could see substantial and significant improvements. At Hildon, we take this responsibility seriously and strive to be guardians of the land. Whether it's through the installation of solar panels, maintaining bee hives, or enabling nature to thrive across our estate, we've made decisive moves to nurture and protect our natural surroundings.
Rivers and Seas: Tackling the Challenges
In the second section of our event, we delved into the critical issues surrounding rivers and seas. Martin De Retuerto from the Trust chaired this session, joined by James Wallace of River Action, Alex Ford from Portsmouth University, Ian Boyd of Arc Biodiversity and Climate, and Dr. Sean Ashworth, Environment Strategy Manager for Southern Water. While the first session had been uplifting, this one confronted us with some alarming facts about the state of our waterways and the devastating outcomes of pollution.
The effects of pollution in our waterways are deeply concerning and serve as a stark reminder of how interconnected our ecosystems are. Alongside our support for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Hildon has also initiated collaboration with the Wessex Rivers Trust. The Rivers Trust is also working on the restoration of Test Valley chalk streams, contributing to the health and vitality of our water systems.
Embracing Responsibility: The Wilder Awards
We've only scratched the surface of the initiatives and insights we've gained on our journey towards responsible estate management. If you're curious to learn more about the Trusts, the Wilder initiatives, and the remarkable individuals and companies that have received Wilder Awards, we invite you to explore further. From dedicated schools to individuals like Di Mitchell and John Ayres, whose combined volunteering contribution spans an impressive 70 years, their stories are truly inspirational.
Embracing Our Responsibility
At Hildon, we remain committed to embracing our responsibility as stewards of the land in many ways. Our dedication to conservation and responsible land management is an integral part of who we are, and we look forward to the positive impact we can continue to make on the environment and the communities we are a part of.
Here are some of the initiatives HIldon has taken in the last few years. With the guidance of The Hawk Conservancy Trust, we have added owl and kestrel boxes. These nesting boxes have been specially placed at the right height, facing the right direction and away from human disturbance to offer the perfect conditions for the birds to flourish and hopefully breed. We have several hives, home to the native black bee, helping to reintroduce this pollinator to the area. We have planted trees not only on the estate but in Romsey and Winchester. Our ‘Tree Henge’, several large trees blown down in a storm decades ago, that have been left to house insect and birds. There are significant spaces such as this that are free from human interference.
We at Hildon understand that our responsibilities extend to working to reduce our carbon footprint. We are proud that 99% of our waste stream is either re-used or recycled. We have significant;y downsized our PET bottles, down from six sizes to just one, with the intention to phase out the last PET bottle. We are working with packaging specialists to find viable replacements. 70% of our business energy comes from our solar panels. Our environmental management system has been 14001:2015 certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). We remain committed to finding ways to improve and are looking to put in place the infrastructure that further reduces our footprint, to become a Carbon Net Zero by 2028. We also know there are improvements we can still make and the role of these amazing NGO's is vital in educating us all in why and how we need to make these changes.