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Aylesbury Vale’s big biodiversity birthday

Archived press release

Date Published: 23/08/10

Bats are in decline

Bats are in decline

Aylesbury Vale’s natural heritage is celebrating a special anniversary this month.

It is 21 years since AVDC began working with wildlife and 2010 also marks the International Year of Biodiversity. Now, with the help of a £49,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the council is commemorating its Big Biodiversity Birthday.

The year-long project – due to be launched on 23 August – will be concentrating on four key themes: barn owls, bats, black poplars and wildlife in towns. Barn owls and bats are in decline and the council’s biodiversity team is planning to increase the number of volunteers working to help in their conservation.

Black poplars are one of the country’s rarest trees and Aylesbury Vale is home to half the national population. The wildlife in the towns part of the project will encourage local people in urban areas to learn more about the natural heritage around them.

The project will raise awareness of the Vale’s wildlife through activities such as a big bat watch, guided walks, gardening projects and a community artist working in schools and parks. The wildlife experts of tomorrow will also be trained up to get them involved in practical conservation skills, animal and plant identification and biological recording and monitoring.

It is hoped that more than 3,000 people will be reached through the public activities, and 500 volunteers receive training. There are also plans to plant 500 more black poplars in the countryside and thousands of wildflowers in parks.

Hilary Phillips has been appointed to lead the comprehensive programme of activities, events and practical conservation. The biodiversity birthday project officer will be based at Haydon Mill in Aylesbury and will be working closely with the council’s green spaces team.

Councillor David Thompson, Cabinet Member for Leisure at AVDC, said: “This birthday celebration is very important to the council, as it shows just how long AVDC has been committed to caring for our wildlife and countryside. The project will leave a lasting legacy of wildlife habitats for future generations to appreciate such as a new black poplar woodland and wildflower meadows.

“I would like to say a personal thank you to all the volunteers and landowners who have worked with us over the last 21 years. Since 1989 when our work started, we have set up 14 new conservation volunteer groups and volunteers have given 27,000 days of their time, worth more than £3.5 million. Our volunteers have planted over 43km of hedgerows and £150,000 wildflowers. The stunning number of volunteers and their achievements is testament to the great commitment of our biodiversity team and I’m delighted to see Hilary in post leading this exciting year of events.”

Commenting for the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East England, said: “This project seeks to spark a lifelong interest in wildlife among young people, encourage town dwellers to learn more about the natural world around them, and recruit community volunteers to help conserve their local environment for future generations.”

For more information about the Biodiversity Birthday Project, please call Hilary Phillips on 01296 435134 or email

Contact information


Biodiversity Birthday Project Officer


01296 435134