Read about how The Nature of Our Village project is engaging with communities to discover and protect their local wildlife…
The Nature of Our Village project set out to massively increase
how much people know about wildlife in Penparcau, a village of over
3,000 people and covering 190 hectares in West Wales. Their aim is
to create a new generation of people with the skills to recognise
and record the wildlife on their doorstep.
Increased public understanding about wildlife and the threats it
faces is often the first step to protecting nature. Wildlife
recording helps councils, governments and other bodies like Natural
Resources Wales and the Wildlife Trusts to make decisions on
policies, conservation measures and how they spend their budgets.
This project provides evidence of the wealth of species in
Penparcau, based on scientific methods, and their data has been
through rigorous checks for accuracy.
It began in November 2015 as a partnership between the Penparcau
Community Forum, the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre,
and the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales. The project is run
by Chloe Griffiths, an Ecologist living in Penparcau.
Since the project began in November 2015 they have engaged with
over 1,000 people, run 216 sessions (surveys, walks and talks), and
noted 2,505 records of species.
The project expanded in 2017, with increases in the number of
species recorded and organisations and individuals engaged.
They had training in Dung Beetle identification at the Oxford
University Museum of Natural History, Advanced Bee Identification
from Bumblebee Conservation, and Grasshopper and Bush-cricket
identification from a local naturalist. They also carried out
surveys with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.
Highlights from their wildlife surveys conducted
- Invertebrates (such as moths, butterflies, bees, and
Some particularly valuable records were the re-finding of the
White Ermine and the Common Pug, both last recorded in Penparcau in
1937! The group were pleased to refind all 7 of their 2016
Bumblebee species in 2017, which are the Early, Tree, Garden,
Common Carder, Red-tailed, White-tailed, and Buff-tailed species.
The group carried out regular invertebrate surveys across the
village and were happy to see some good numbers of Common Red
Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) (104 on 4 July), and more than
100 Garden Chafer Beetles (Phyllopertha horticola), swarming on Pen
Dinas one summer morning before going to rest on the flower heads
of a hay meadow at noon.
During their regular reptile surveys a second population of Common
Lizards on Tanybwlch beach itself was discovered, separated from
the main colony on Pen Dinas by the narrow and shallow River
Ystwyth. Reptile specialists from ARC (Amphibian and Reptile
Conservation) have noted that it is likely that the lizards are
swimming across and are thus able to benefit from the genetic
diversity of both populations, and the resources of both
Thanks to a combination of their own bird surveys, the Ceredigion
Bird Blog, the Ceredigion Bird Report 2016, and generous sharing of
data from individuals, the project now has a much better idea of
what bird activity there is in Penparcau. 82 species were recorded
in 2017, out of a total of 91 bird species ever recorded in
The group was delighted to find Water Vole at a location in the
Aberystwyth area; a population first recorded in 2004. This is
fantastic news, as these animals have suffered a massive decline of
around 90%. Aberystwyth's population is now important on a national
scale as one of the few that has managed to hang on. This year the
group were even lucky enough to see the animal itself coming out of
a burrow, one volunteer said;
"That's really amazing, to actually see the animal itself, I
never expected that, I had a brilliant time."
- Marine life:
A massive influx of Portuguese Man o' War was surprisingly
recorded in the seas around the UK in September - December 2017. It
was possible for the first time to map their spread in almost real
time around our coasts via social media.
Gudrun Limbrick, from the Beach Matters website, wrote;
"What followed was the most amazing citizen science endeavour.
Through social media, more than 300 sightings were reported to me
over the 12 weeks the Portuguese Men o' War were around. These
sightings have led to this, the most comprehensive mapping of PMOW
Contributing to this "live-tracking" of species via social
media is one of the ways that biological recording in Penparcau,
and other areas, can clearly show an immediate national impact.
Groups and individuals can collaborate with the scientific
community in close to real time to participate in increasingly
accurate understandings of the spread of species in the UK.
The Nature of our Village project will continue in 2018, where the
group will aim to fill as many of the gaps as possible in the
picture of how their local wildlife is doing. There is a massive
amount of work to do, and as the threats to nature continue to pile
up, it is increasingly vital to learn about and protect what we
If you would like to find out more, or to come along and take
part, get in touch through their facebook
group or email email@example.com