Space4Nature launches at Painshill
Families, walkers and budding conservationists visiting Painshill, in Cobham, joined local conservation groups this weekend to help find and document the plants and wildlife that live on the site.
Dubbed the ‘Space4Nature Earth Search’, the mass recording event – known as a bio blitz – was part of the new Space4Nature programme, awarded by Postcode Dream Fund thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The programme aims to protect more of Surrey’s Wildlife by mapping and connecting habitats using satellite imagery, Artificial Intelligence and citizen science.
During the one-day event on Sunday June 25, local specialist conservation groups, Surrey Wildlife Trust and Painshill Park Trust volunteers and members of the public who visit Painshill were invited to help investigate and record the varied plant and animal life within the park. Around 300 species were recorded on the day, including Nuthatches, Goldcrests, Sparrowhawks, Smooth Newts, Downy Emerald and Back-tailed Skimmer Dragonflies, Red-belted Clearwing Moths, Silver-washed Fritillary Butterflies and a rare plant called Smooth Cat’s Ear. The event contributed to the collection of vital data for the Space4Nature project and helped inform the evolution of its Artificial Intelligence systems. This technology will then be used across Surrey to enable the team to pinpoint which areas of land should be joined up to other habitats of similar type, making it easier for wildlife to move to access food, safe havens from predators and opportunities to breed.
Paul Griffiths, Director of the Painshill Park Trust said:
“Painshill takes conservation seriously, and we are on a mission to help local people learn more about the amazing biodiversity that shares our site. It was hugely encouraging that so many people chose to join us on Sunday.
“Space4Nature will take those principles further, and will help restore wildlife across the county – and we look forward to working with local communities to deliver a better future for wildlife and people.”
Space4Nature received £1.25 million thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and has also since been awarded £200,000 by the Garfield Weston Foundation. It is delivered by Surrey Wildlife Trust, the University of Surrey, Buglife and the Painshill Park Trust.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said:
“The Dream Fund Space4Nature project combines nature and leading technology to create and support healthier wildlife and biodiversity throughout Surrey. It’s fantastic that our players are supporting the monitoring of wildlife habitats, helping to secure the survival of native species for future generations. The Painshill Park BioBlitz event was a fun and interactive way for people to get involved with the nature, wildlife and biodiversity on their doorstep.”
Throughout the next two years, schoolchildren who visit as part of Painshill’s ongoing programme of curriculum-based outdoor learning activities will learn how to record species and investigate nature as they examine the park’s plants and animals and their habitats as part of the Space4Nature project.
The June event is not your only chance to get involved with this exciting and important project. The Space4Nature team will be asking hundreds of local volunteers to help survey and assess habitats across Surrey, including on Chobham Common, Quarry Hangers and Puttenham Common. To register your interest, please visit: www.surreywildlifetrust.org
Photography by Jon Hawkins