Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Ashes Pasture: Small White Orchid at last!

Last year I tried and failed to find Small White Orchid on Ashes Pasture nature reserve, only to see them up the hill at Colt Park. Today, I took Paul Hudson, the environmental correspondent from the BBC to Ashes to film a piece for BBC Look North about how climate change may impact on upland wildlife. My luck was in (well, I had good directions), and I found three SWOs easily. They seemed to be thriving although Paul wasn't too impressed! The site is looking fantastic and our project is almost complete as work on Reyn Barn is almost at an end.

Ashes Pasture - how upland meadows should look!

Pen-y-Ghent, viewed from nr Selside. Notice how bright green the 'improved' meadows look, a Rye Grass monoculture, grown to produce lots of grass for silage to feed to dairy cattle during the winter and grazed to death by sheep the rest of the time.

Small White Orchid, an Ashes Pasture special that is doing well this year.


The average temperature in Yorkshire has increased by 0.6 degrees in the last fifty years. Not much you may think, but this is having an impact on our weather and the knock-on from this is clearly seen in our wildlife. Butterflies such as Speckled Wood and Ringlet are moving north, the latter having colonised the Ingleborough area in the last few years. We welcome the arrival of new species, but for how long will our upland species and those at the very southern limit of their natural range cling on, before conditions become inhospitable. In days gone by, as climatic fluctuations occurred, wildlife would have tracked north and south over the centuries. Today, intensive agriculture, driven grouse moors, roads, railways and urban areas present huge, impassable barriers to many species. If species can't shift their ranges, they will die out. This is now the reality in Britain for many species as the climate warms. For how long will we find Small White Orchid on the flank of Ingleborough?

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