Barry Craske

We spoke to Melissa Spiers from Coombe Bissett Down to speak about her role at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and the impact of the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

What is your role at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust?

I’m the Coombe Bissett Down (CBD) Project Officer for community engagement. My job is to engage people with this rare habitat and the reversion process (returning arable land to chalk grassland). This can be through school sessions, volunteering events, public events, groups, walks, talks and much more.

What’s your favourite part about the role?

The best bit about my role is getting people of all ages outside and enjoying nature. It’s incredibly rewarding to have enthusiasm for wildlife spread to others, whether it’s through a talk or a minibeast hunt. I have been in post under two months but I think I’m really going to enjoy the summer when CBD is buzzing with the activity of both wildlife and people across the reserve.

Ryan Tabor

What will the Heritage Lottery Fund  mean to you?

It’s a great resource for us to carry out ambitious work creating incredibly valuable habitat and connecting wildlife sites across Wiltshire. Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) helps carry out essential conservation for the benefit of both wildlife and  people which we just wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. I wouldn’t be here to support people on the nature reserve without HLF funding.  

Barry Craske

What does the HLF fund enable you to do that you couldn’t do before?

The fund means a chance to support lots of local groups coming out to the reserve and anyone that wants to get more involved with the Coombe Bissett Down nature reserve. HLF have allowed people who couldn’t get to the site (financially or physical) or connect with it to now access it through the help of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers. Everyone should have a chance to access natural spaces as they are a huge benefit to health and wellbeing. It also enables volunteers to upskill through training courses (surveying/leading groups) and they can then go on to monitor or promote wildlife on the reserve long after the project has ended.

What does it mean for visitors coming to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust nature reserves?

Coming to our CBD nature reserve means lots more events and opportunities for everyone to connect with nature and explore the site with a little added help.

Do you have any hidden gems in Wiltshire?

I’ve recently moved to the area for the role so I’m still exploring! Of course I’ve got to say Coombe Bissett Down, it’s a huge site that has lots of hidden pockets for flowers, insects, deer and other wildlife to thrive, great for an explore. Living in Salisbury, I enjoy walking through the water meadows, the other day I saw a water vole which was a real treat as they’re are usually incredibly secretive creatures.

If you would like to know more about our Coombe Bissett Down project and to get involved with events, volunteering opportunities and more please contact Melissa by email.

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