By joining Ecotalk, you’ll be part of a radical new approach to the world of mobiles. We use your bill money to buy land and give it back to nature. That means helping the land and letting it run wild – so nature can take over. We’ve taken far too much land for ourselves – flower rich grasslands have declined by 97% since the 1930s. And bees are suffering. We’re focusing on providing new homes for bees first – so each time you use your phone on Ecotalk, you’ll be helping us ‘put the bee back in Britain’. By making homes for bees, we’ll be creating new habitats for all wildlife. We're working with some great partners to help us give land back to nature – including Buglife, Natural England, Friends of the Earth and The Wildlife Trust. We’ll tell you all about our projects as they happen. In the meantime, here’s a blueprint our parent company, Ecotricity , has worked on.
In 2004 Ecotricity planted a tree for each of its first 20,000 customers, creating a new woodland near its first windmill at Lynch Knoll in Gloucestershire. The idea was to give the land back to nature: to let it run wild and create vital habitats for all sorts of creatures. The lower 20 acres of the field had formerly been ancient woodland, which had been cleared in modern times for cattle grazing, taking a big bite out of the beautiful Woodchester Valley. We planted our 20,000 trees here to restore that woodland. We planted a native broadleaf mix - 28 per cent oak, 25 per cent ash and 20 per cent beech, along with assorted minor trees and woody shrubs for diversity, amenity and wildlife benefit. These include alder, field maple, birch, hornbeam, hazel, holly and dogwood.
Meadow butterflies such as small copper and common blue can be seen along with more typical woodland species such as green-veined white, holly blue, comma and speckled wood. Woodland bird species such as blackcap and whitethroat are beginning to colonise the area. The top 20 acres of our field have been divided. 10 acres have been left to run pretty much wild, turning slowly into a wildflower meadow and habitat for insects and birds.
Since 2004 a variety of animals have moved in, including deer (roe and muntjac), badgers, foxes, mice and voles, along with birds of prey like kestrels.
There are already a few types of bumblebees using old mammal holes to nest in, and they’re likely to be hibernating in the tussocky areas over winter. There’s still a lot more to do to encourage greater biodiversity and improve food sources for pollinators such as bees. To give land back to nature and to help it recover from decades of intensive agriculture, it's not enough to just leave nature to it in this particular example. The kind of changes necessary take centuries to happen naturally, so we have to give nature a helping hand. The open grassland offers a great opportunity to develop the best techniques to improve the land for bees and other pollinators: planting perennial flowers like comfrey, sowing annual wildflowers for nectar-feeding bees, and even stripping some areas bare for mining bees to nest. Lynch Knoll has provided a great case study – and it gives us the insight we need to develop other sites and help put the bee back in Britain.