Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Supporting countryside conservation

 Working on holiday with the National Trust at Devil’s Dyke, the South Downs Working on holiday with the National Trust at Devil’s Dyke, the South Downs

Anyone can be involved with nature and help towards countryside conservation. There are different ways and no set path. 

I am not a bird watcher. I don’t have the patience and tend to be looking the wrong way! But I appreciate it when others are, and it is always special when I happen to glimpse anything notable while out on walks.

And I am not a gardener, but of course, I really love it that lots of people are gardeners, including my mother. I just ensure that wildlife has a home, and encourage Mum to grow wildlife-friendly plants (I bought her a packet of wildflowers and a pocket book guide on birds for Mother’s Day).

I’ve built up a great system of bird feeders in several places, so that shier birds can feed away from the house, and provide water and seeds on the bird table for those that prefer to feed on flat surfaces. I incorporate my regime of filling up the feeders into my routine before I go to work as if they are my pets! They are actually everybody’s in a sense, and sometimes need some extra help even if they don’t know it.

I suggested my father mow the paddock or cut the hedges in a more wildlife friendly manner, which fell on deaf-ish ears! However, after finding the old robin’s bird box was broken, I got him a book on building them for Father’s Day, and look forward to building one with him soon. I tend to buy my gifts from wildlife charities, so I get to give them a bit of support too.

Other wildlife in the garden are getting their lives sorted too – I run a very successful insect hotel (not for the faint-hearted as they are also feed for birdlife!), will be producing an amphibian ramp, and am wondering how to embark on discovering hedgehogs and provide for them.

I think conservation is partly about being mindful of our natural world, as well as incorporating its care into our activities: can I recycle this; do I really need to take the car; have I remembered to bring my own bags; shall I holiday in the UK instead of abroad?

Volunteering for CPRE is another great way to support countryside conservation, and I consider being members of similar organisations my way of ensuring nature has a future. I have just returned from my third working holiday with the National Trust, which I enjoy every couple of years and find very rewarding. I also plan to re-jig my career path into conservation via ranger volunteering and workshops – good luck to me!

Lizzie and Patrick
Lizzie and Patrick

Finally, actually using the countryside is the best way to protect and promote it, as it demonstrates the value of it to society, as well as being great for us individually. My preferred method would be horse riding and management, and after fifteen years of riding my pony Patrick, I came to the conclusion that it would be a shame to have a driving pony and never have tried driving!

After a minor mishap when Patrick bolted with me in the cart, I soon got to appreciate the opportunity of tasting a slice of the old country lifestyle! I also enjoyed experiencing the countryside in a new way, one that is an antidote to the technological dependence and distractions of modern life.

The English countryside we seek to conserve has evolved over thousands of years through the touch of human activities, often supported by horses. Driving and riding horses is a method of transport that enables a closer, more accepting, accommodating and interactive relationship with the land.

carts eye view
A cart's eye view

The slower pace enables me to see more, and appreciate the wonderful agricultural landscape of the Fens, with wildlife busily going about their lives around me, and the elements running into me.

So, however you like to enjoy it, go on doing your bit to support nature and the countryside around you!


Lizzie Bannister volunteers at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Branch of CPRE. Want to get involved with CPRE? Find out more in our Ways To Volunteer section.

Conservation is about being mindful of our natural world, as well as incorporating its care into our activities

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Hay field harvest

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