Last week saw a flurry of activity in the Lower Derwent Valley with an influx of 30 Natural England staff and volunteers over the course of the week. This was all part of setting up the LDV as a Long Term Monitoring Network (LTMN) site. The LTMN is part of Natural England’s Integrated Monitoring Programme, which aims to provide evidence to improve our understanding of environmental change, particularly climate change, air pollution and changes in land management policy and practice.
Whilst the impacts on breeding birds have also been shown on this blog in recent posts and particularly over last summer, the LDV is also important for its range of grassland communities, ranging from the drier wet grassland types (MG4 in the National Vegetation Classification) through to swamp and reedbed (S1 in the NVC). Whilst the extent and species composition of the wetter communities appear to have remained largely unchanged over recent years, it is clear that the MG4 grassland (Meadow Foxtail and Greater Burnet communities) have been really squeezed back to the boundaries of the reserve. Hopefully the LTMN data will allow us to compare national trends on grasslands like this, as well as climatic variation elsewhere, to help unpick the real causes of any such change – national/global variation in climate or local river catchment changes, long term or just short term sporadic effects.
Long Term Monitoring provides the baseline against which the future state of the environment can be assessed in a reliable historical context and it allows the unanticipated changes to be identified. It was also a great opportunity for a range of NE staff and volunteers to experience this NNR, share skills and get some time spent in the field with expert botanists.
It was certainly an enjoyable, if not very hot and long week, and nicely summed up by Rob Keane, Environmental Monitoring Specialist of the Integrated Monitoring Team who said ‘many thanks for allowing us to bring enjoyment and real science together on a wonderful site for all involved’.
Below are a selection of wildflowers taken throughout the week from various locations around the Lower Derwent Valley.