IJ̳

Published: 7th JUNE 2024

The volunteers helping nature to thrive on the National Cycle Network

Some of our incredible volunteers recently spent the day planting wildflowers along the Lias Line in Warwickshire. Find out more about why making space for nature on the Network is so vital.

Two IJ̳ volunteers wearing high visibility jackets walking along a path holding red buckets with wildflower seedings in.

Our incredible volunteers recently spent the day planting wildflowers along the Lias Line in Warwickshire

Last week was Volunteers’ Week, and IJ̳ is very fortunate to be supported by 3,000 volunteers around the UK and Northern Ireland.

Our volunteers help us make it easier for everyone to walk, wheel and cycle.

From helping young people to get cycling and marshalling School Streets, to clearing overgrown vegetation and auditing barriers on the National Cycle Network, there are so many ways to volunteer.

Today we want to shine a light on the ecological work that our volunteers take part in, allowing spaces on the National Cycle Network for nature to flourish.

A close up image of three large buckets filled to the brim with wildflower seedlings. The middle bucket is red and the two on either side are black.

Planting wildflower seeds enhances the local area, supports biodiversity and helps the environment by providing habitats for pollinators.

Paths not just for people, but for nature too

Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change and changes to agricultural practices, the survival of many species in the UK is threatened.

There is an ever-shrinking amount of space for plants and animals to live in.

There's also a lack of safe routes connecting habitats, which is isolating wildlife populations.

This is why, with the help of our volunteers, IJ̳ is developing greener, more biodiverse paths on the National Cycle Network.

Most recently, a group of volunteers in the Midlands came together to sow wildflower seedlings.

This took place along the Lias Line Greenway, a section of National Cycle Network Route 41 in Warwickshire.

It is a haven for rare species of plants and animals ranging from otters to glow worms.

The Lias Line has the potential to create exemplary habitats, with routes for wildlife to thrive.

Help us protect the Lias Line

The Lias Line is part of the National Cycle Network, cared for by IJ̳. Your donation today will help keep the Network safe and open for everyone to enjoy.

A folding cycle parked on the side of the Lias Line path. On either side are lots of white and yellow wildflowers thriving, with greenery surrounding

The Lias Line has the potential to create exemplary habitats, with routes for wildlife to thrive.

An integral part of IJ̳’ ongoing work extending and improving the Lias Line has been to restructure and enrich areas along the path.

This nurtures biodiversity while helping these spaces become more resilient to anticipated impacts of climate change.

Previous examples include:

  • Designing around and conserving existing wildlife assets.
  • Establishing new wetland areas to encourage great crested newts.
  • Installing roosting boxes to offer safe, protected spaces for bats.
  • Working to increase habitats for the common blue butterfly with the
A IJ̳ volunteer bending down to scatter and sow wildflower seedlings. They are wearing a high visibility jacket.

We want to ensure that people and wildlife enjoy the National Cycle Network in harmony.

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“I have volunteered on the Lias Line a few times doing different things, such as putting up birdboxes or planting trees, and now sowing wildflower seedlings. Blockquote quotation marks
Richard, Volunteer

Creating a wildlife haven people want to travel through and live by

We want to ensure that people and wildlife enjoy the Network in harmony.

The Lias Line connects us with nature, offering local communities the space to invest in their physical and mental wellbeing on commuting, leisure, and everyday trips.

Volunteer Richard, who tries to be as sustainable as possible in his daily life, has felt these benefits of the Lias Line.

He told us why this encouraged him to volunteer:

“I have volunteered on the Lias Line a few times doing different things, such as putting up birdboxes or planting trees, and now sowing wildflower seedlings.

“I am keen on active travel.

"Before I retired I used to commute on the Lias Line where I felt all the physical and mental health benefits of doing so.

"I want to encourage more people to do the same.”

Fostering community spirit

Civil Engineer Alistair volunteers on the Lias Line because it brings together his passions of the history of the old railway, cycling and protecting the environment.

He commented on benefits of meeting like-minded people out on the Network:

“There were plenty of opportunities to speak with fellow volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is a really interesting experience to share with an enthusiastic bunch of people.”

“There is always a very friendly atmosphere.

“The day was a fulfilling experience and we finished with a real sense of purpose and the feel-good factor.

“Everyone involved felt valued in their work.”

Our volunteers after a fulfilling day learning about and nurturing the biodiversity on their local National Cycle Network route.

Learning about local ecology

Our volunteers were able to share their local knowledge with one another and with the IJ̳ team, as well as hearing expert insights from our Head of Biodiversity, Jim Whiteford.

Richard said:

“Jim from the IJ̳ team came over to have a big chat, explaining what the seed mix was. He is so knowledgeable about the biodiversity on the greenway and how we can support it.”

“At the end of the day, it was rewarding to be able to see what you have done.”

Alistair said:

“The Lias Line is such a beautiful location, and it was brilliant to further understand the environment and nature that is going on there and help develop that.

“In future visits we can go back and monitor the progress of the seedlings.”

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The Lias Line is such a beautiful location, and it was brilliant to further understand the environment and nature that is going on there and help develop that. Blockquote quotation marks
Alistair, Volunteer

Support IJ̳' vital ecological work and the National Cycle Network through purchasing a virtual gift.

Whether it's for a loved one or yourself, your gift goes towards protecting the environment and wildlife along our paths.

Like those along the Lias line, Hedgerows are a vital network for nature - linking habitats for small mammals like the dormouse and birds such as the linnet.

Vole on Lias Line

Be a wildlife hero

This gift could give biodiversity a boost – helping our in-house ecologists and volunteers plant and nurture hedgerows, helping British wildlife to thrive for years to come.

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