Wild at heart: celebrating World Wildlife Day at Center Parcs
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Our forests are home to hundreds of wonderful plant and animal species both big and small, found high up in the treetops and on the forest floor. This time of year, with spring around the corner, our forests are beginning to come alive after the long winter months. Daffodils and snowdrops are beginning to flower and birdsong fills the air as our feathered friends begin gathering material to build nests.
What many of us don’t realise is the work that goes on behind the scenes in all seasons to ensure not only our wildlife but also the habitats they call home are protected.
To celebrate World Wildlife Day, we wanted to take a closer look at our forests and the creatures that inhabit them, and highlight the work that goes into protecting our unique environment.
Looking after our forests
The Conservation Rangers on our six villages carry out various day-to-day tasks to keep the village looking its best for our guests (such as cutting the grass, leaf-blowing, litter picking) but also carry out important tasks to help maintain a healthy woodland, including management of the scrub, lakes and waterways.
Richard Watson, our Ecology and Biodiversity Manager, tells us:
“The forests are the heart of Center Parcs and arguably our most important asset, so the ongoing management of the forest is vital for now and importantly the future. By responsibly managing our forests and habitats it provides the opportunities for species to live and thrive.”
Protecting our wildlife
It’s so important to us to protect the species that call our forests home.
Annual surveys by both our in-house Conservation team and external ecologists are carried out to understand what species we have on our villages. This ranges from larger mammals such as badgers and deer to small aquatic invertebrates - and everything in between! This allows us to produce management plans to look after their habitats, helping them to survive and thrive in the forest.
Each of our villages has a 10-year Forest Management Plan, which is continually reviewed to help us protect our forests for future generations to enjoy.
Our European Protected Species
Did you know we have European Protected Species on all of our villages as well as locally and nationally scarce species?
Our villages are home to a variety of European Protected Species. These species receive full protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. In order to protect them, we have ‘Biodiversity Sensitive Area’ (BSA) maps on all villages. These are maps of the village which record and highlight habitats and locations where we know these species are. This includes bat roosts in lodges and buildings, rare wildflowers, badger setts and newt ponds.
These maps ensures that people are aware of what’s there and that no activities take place that would threaten the wildlife or their habitat.
Here are the protected species which can be found at our villages:
· Sherwood, Elveden, Woburn – bats and badgers
· Longleat – bats, badgers, great crested newts and otters
· Whinfell – bats, badgers, red squirrels, great crested newts and otters
· Longford – bats, badgers, red squirrels and pine martens
To learn more about our wildlife from our knowledgeable Rangers, why not try out one of our nature activities on your next Center Parcs break? Become an explorer for the day and seek out our woodland creatures in their natural habitat with Nature Detectives, or take a guided Nature Walk to learn all about the wonderful world of wildlife that call our forests home.
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled and see if you can spot any of our protected species on our villages! Don’t forget to share them with us on social media using #myCP.