Nurturing Nature

Cranborne Chase Chase and Chalke Heritage Fund

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Project Overview

The Nurturing Nature project aims to train over 100 people who have little or no experience in wildlife surveying to become ‘biological recorders’ on Cranborne Chase.

Project Development


Volunteer Training and Engagement

Since the start of the Nurturing Nature project, 212 people have been trained in wildlife survey across approximately 79 training sessions. These sessions have taken place in the form of online courses, in-the-field training, and in-person talks and sessions.

hedgerow survey training

Volunteer trainees have taken courses in wildlife survey covering various topics and fields, depending on their interest.

summer tree ID

Below you can find the list of delivered training sessions as of Jan 2024.

orchid training

In order to engage volunteers with the project, team members from the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre hosted many ‘Coffee & Cake’ sessions in cafes dotted around the Chase & Chalke LP area. These sessions were designed to invite people curious about getting involved with the project to be able to meet and chat about the opportunities available and how they could get started.

coffee and cake poster


So far, 18 of these Coffee & Cake sessions have taken place since the start of the project, as well as an outdoor engagement effort at Stourhead Estate.

Across training and events, volunteers have spent 4,871 hours engaging with the Nurturing Nature project.

Nature Surveys in the Field


So far, 29 different sites across the landscape have been surveyed by volunteers since undertaking training. These sites were surveyed over 32 different survey days throughout the year.
tree survey
The sites included 7 farms and nature spaces such as Fontmell Down and Martin Down National Nature Reserve.
hedgerow survey
Surveys covered a variety of different wildlife groups, including the following:
  • Hedgerow Survey
  • Pollinators
  • Wildflowers and Grasses
  • Butterflies
  • Reptiles
  • Aquatic Mammals
  • Bees
  • Birds
  • Mammals

hedgerow survey

Survey data is entered into an app called iNaturalist, where sighting data is stored and transferred, and shared with scientific data repositories.


orchid survey

Understanding Biodiversity and the Landscape

As a result of the biological data gathered so far by Nurturing Nature project survey volunteers, 145 hectares of the landscape are now in better management.
magic flower
Since the start of the survey sessions, 4,588 individual species records have been recorded and collected by volunteers so far.

Practical Conservation and Environmental Improvements

Practical conservation and habitat maintenance has taken place at a variety of key sites as a result of survey data from the Nurturing Nature project.
The project has seen 21 practical days take place, with activities such as scrub clearance, wildflower planting, and berry harvesting / seed spreading.
Prescombe Down National Nature Reserve had sections of land cleared of invasive scrub, which was carried out in conjunction with Natural England staff and volunteers.
invasive scrub clearance
Successful wildflower seeding took place at the Stubhampton estate with volunteers supported by the Chase & Chalke team. Excess stones and rocks were removed from a site, and then wildflower seeds scattered on a site located near a dew pond. 6 months later, the site was abloom with a splendid variety of wildflowers and herbs.
wildflower survey
Berry harvesting and spreading took place in Autumn 2022 in the Melbury Valley and were taken and spread through beech trees at the other side of the valley. The public and families were invited to take part in this event as well as volunteers.
Berry Spreading
Berries were taken from a range of trees and shrubs, such as hawthorn, blackthorn, rosehips, elder, and hazelnuts. The seeds and berries were spread to diversify the monoculture of the nearby planted beech trees. The aim being to achieve a variation of height, flowers, and fruit, to support insects, birds, and animals.

Get Involved with ‘Nurturing Nature’

Learn more about the ‘Nurturing Nature’ Project

Find out more by viewing our Project Summary here:

The Chase & Chalke Volunteer Hub


Click below to register on our volunteer and training hub!

The Chase & Chalke team offer free training opportunities to our volunteers. Register today to view upcoming activities to get involved with the ‘Nurturing Nature’ project, as well as free training & more.

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Subscribe to Our Newsletter for Project Updates

The Chase & Chalke team send out monthly updates on our projects and opportunities. This is a great way to ensure you’ll receive our latest news and opportunities.

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Register to stay up to date with the scheme.

A New Wave of Wildlife Surveyors

Our new surveyors will get expert training in variety of new survey skills, including surveying for butterflies, farmland and woodland birds, mammals, tree and hedgerow survey, woodland botany, chalk grassland species, arable plants and fungi.

children bug hunting

Trainees will be able to develop their skills across different specialist species groups and, as volunteers, will then help us survey as many key habitats and important species within the Chase & Chalke area as possible. 


Practical Conservation and ‘Nurturing Nature’

The survey work generated from this project will form the foundation for setting a new baseline of information.

This will help us better understand the state of biodiversity of the Chase & Chalke area and help us identify where practical conservation work could help improve habitats for wildlife.

By mobilising our Practical Conservation Volunteers our aim is to work with local farmers and landowners to help them carry out practical conservation work to improve, and perhaps create new, habitats on their land.

Join the New Wave Today

Free training, unique volunteering opportunities, incredible experience, in an amazing landscape with wonderful people. What’s not to love?

We need new champions of the area to identify, record, promote and take action to help wildlife. Join us today.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be adding training and volunteering opportunities to the Chase & Chalke Volunteer Hub. To keep up to date on how you can become part of the new wave of wildlife surveyors and find out more about all of our free training and volunteering opportunities, click here.