'Conserving wildlife and ancient landscape'


Registered Charity Number: 702488 


The Trust has carried out many scientific surveys and research projects some of which are summarised below.

Arable wildflower conservation study

 Arable wildflower conservation study

The Trust conducted a study into the establishment of new arable plant sites and the enhancement of existing sites.  It was found that species-rich conservation margins were more easily established on sites with an existing, limited arable flora and without pernicious grass weeds.  For a full description of the study’s methodology and conclusions please see our Practical arable wildflower conservation paper.

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 Butterfly Transect

For a number of years the Trust, in association with Butterfly Conservation, walked a butterfly transect on the south-west slopes of Bredon Hill to monitor butterfly populations.  The results of these surveys have been entered into the Trust’s extensive natural history database.

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Experimental Farmland Monitoring Scheme

In 2000, with backing from English Nature and The Environmental Agency, KCT began a ten-year project to monitor the effects of changes in farmland management on wildlife populations. 

The project is located on the Kemerton Estate and uses an experimental methodology to assess the value of farmland schemes such as ‘Set-aside’ and ‘Countryside Stewardship’ for wildlife.  This methodology is based on the principle that a few ‘indicators’ may be representative of diversity in the wider ecosystem.  These are then monitored on a regular basis.  The fauna ‘indicators’ are relatively quick and easy to monitor, and field workers do not require specialist scientific skills.  The indicators are:

  • Birds – numbers of breeding skylark and yellowhammer

  • Invertebrates – numbers of butterfly by species and bumblebee by family.

  • Water quality

 Brambling, Finches and Yellowhammer Feeding

The methodology has been designed to suit resources which are limited, but which will be available throughout the life of the project.  In simple terms, birds are surveyed over the Kemerton Estate; butterflies and bumblebees are counted along selected, representative transects; and water quality is checked in a selected range of sites.  In order to check the efficacy of this experimental, simplified scheme, more detailed monitoring will be necessary.


This project runs alongside other surveys carried out by the Trust, including the monitoring of BAP breeding birds, and the counting of wintering birds. Site-based botanical surveys are also undertaken, usually every five years.

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Farmland five-year bird study

Whitethroat nests in hedges and bushes

This study aimed to monitor the populations of various farmland bird species which have declined nationally since the 1950s.  It took place between 1998 and 2002 on farmland managed by the Trust.  A strict methodology was employed to obtain an annual ‘snapshot’ population assessment of four species: skylark, yellowhammer, linnet and whitethroat.  During the period farmland in the study was entered into the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, and changes were made to the management of field margins and hedgerows.  The populations of all four bird species showed increases over the period, while the national populations, as measured by the BTO, continued to decline.  For a full description of the methodology and results please see the study extract on our Farmland bird study page.

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Glow worm survey

Glow worms belong to the family of beetles called Lampyridae which also includes Fire-flies (which do not occur Britain).  They get their English name from their extraordinary ability to emit light and from the shape of the female insect, which has a worm-like appearance.

A small-scale survey of parts of Bredon Hill was carried out in 2006.  A more detailed study was undertaken in 2007, the results and methodology of which may be seen here

In 2008 local volunteers carried out a wider survey of Glow-worms on Bredon Hill.  The report on the project may be viewed here

Note that the map referred to in the 2008 survey can be viewed here

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Hedgerow survey

The Trust has carried out a full survey of hedgerows bordering farmland that it manages. A simple methodology was created, and observers recorded information under three broad headings:
  • species composition
  • size and shape
  • hedge management & adjoining habitat

For a full description of methodology and results please see our hedgerow survey page.

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Invertebrate survey

The Trust funded P & J Whitehead to carry out a 5 year survey of invertebrates in the parishes of Kemerton and Bredon between 1991 and 1996.  This ambitious undertaking produced exceptional results and gave rise to a number of scientific papers, including several published in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.  Whitehead’s research led to Bredon Hill being recognised as the third most important site in the UK for dead-wood beetles and other invertebrates.  Much of the study area was subsequently designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – the highest level of protection under European legislation, reserved for those habitats and species considered to be most in need of conservation.

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Leaf litter trials in planted woodland at Kemerton Estate in South Worcestershire (John Clarke - February 2007)

This series of trials aimed to investigate the value of using imported leaf litter as a means of enriching the biodiversity of young woodland plantations, which lack in the ground flora, fungi and soil microbes usually associated with old and established woodland.  In these trials quantities of leaf litter were introduced from nearby ancient woodland to various target sites.  A more detailed account of the trials' results and methodology can be seen here.

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Mining bee study

The bare ground at the newly-landscaped Kemerton Lake Nature Reserve was quickly colonised by mining bees. To date a number of species (some of local importance) have been identified, together with associated parasites and Klepto-parasites. The Trust is looking at how best to conserve and maintain what would otherwise be a transient habitat To read a more detailed paper describing this work please see our mining bee colony page.

Ground Ivy, seen by many as a 'weed' provides an important
 source of food for bees and other insects

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Nest box protection trial

The Trust maintains around 100 artificial nest boxes, which attract small, hole-nesting birds such as tits.  Damage to the boxes and predation of their nests by great spotted woodpeckers is fairly common, but in two areas the problem became so acute that 100% of boxes were being damaged.

The usual deterrent – fixing metal plates to vulnerable parts of the box – is time-consuming and costly.  As an alternative, Trust staff have experimented with fitting small mirrors underneath entrance holes.  Twelve trial boxes were located in the problem areas.  After 18 months only four boxes had been damaged, two of which were only damaged on sides which were not protected with mirrors.  At least eight of the boxes were occupied by nesting tits during the trial period.  For a more detailed account of the methodology and results please see our Nest box trials page.

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Polecat study

Trapping, radio-tagging and tracking of polecats has been conducted as part of the studies by the Vincent Wildlife Trust into this species' habitat preferences and behaviour.

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Small mammal survey

During July and August 2004 Li-Lian Butcher, from Southampton University, carried out a Small Mammal Survey for the Trust, funded by the Aggregates Levy sustainability Fund. The survey’s findings can be viewed here. Please note that this report is in Adobe Reader (pdf) format and requires this software to be installed on your PC to view it.

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Wild bird feeding trials

This small, practical trial sought to demonstrate a simple way of supplementing or substituting winter feed for farmland birds by broadcasting seed into stubble or the remains of a crop.  A more detailed description of the trial’s methodology and results can be seen here.

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Widlflower nursery project

The wildflower nursery project has conducted trials into growing rare and scarce arable wild flowers.  Seed collected from wild, local sources is propagated in the Trust’s garden plots and greenhouse.  The plants are grown to maturity, allowed to set seed, and harvested.  The second generation seeds are planted out in appropriate controlled sites. Trust staff have produced a paper on this work, and can offer advice on the harvest and propagation of many wild flower species.


KCT Greenhouse

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Work-based learning placement report

Li-Lian Butcher from Southampton University carried out work-based learning activities with the Trust during July and August 2004.  She spent a total of four weeks working on Trust sites, supervised by Conservation Advisor John Clarke. Her activities included practical conservation work, surveying species, monitoring sites, inputting biological records data, and visiting associated organizations such as Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

A copy of Li-Lian Butcher’s report can be viewed here.  Please note that this is in Adobe Reader (pdf) format and requires this software to be installed on your PC before you can view it.

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Re-planting ELms In the Countryside - 'RELIC'

A few years ago an elm was discovered near Pershore that appeared to be immune to Dutch elm disease. Following the discovery of the elm, John Clarke from the Trust and Bob Hares, Royal Horticultural Society advisor to Pershore college, successfully took cuttings. The first saplings have since been planted, you can read more about the RELIC project here.

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