Winter Watch

This is our final newsletter of 2020 and I’m sure we share the same hope that 2021 will be kinder on us all.
The year has been challenging, and as we enter into another, hopefully short-lived, period of isolation, the spaces we manage become even more important to more people.
Please continue to get out and about and make the most of the Gift to Nature sites, with appropriate social distancing of course, and help us, by continuing to respect the spaces and the wildlife that make them their home.
Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to feel more grounded. A proven way to improve our mental and physical health, plus watching out for those little signs of spring, already present, from hibernating ladybirds to tiny leaf buds waiting to replace their fallen predecessors, is the perfect way to remind ourselves everything has its cycle and new life is just around the corner.

This is a wonderful time of year for winter colour and this year, after the dry spring and warm wet summer, the recent cold snap has stimulated some beautiful hues across the Island. Without the rush of the normal festive shopping period, maybe we can stop to appreciate an alternative seasonal joy. 

Why not take your camera and share your excursion photos with us, and with your permission we will post on our social media sites to bring our wonderful outdoors into people lives – who knows it might encourage a few more people to go wilder! 
As usual, if you notice anything that might need our attention please call us on 01983 296244 or email 

Thank You 

We can’t let the year go by without saying a few thank yous.
Gift to Nature is a small team with a big mission and it just wouldn’t be possible to do the work we do without a LOT of help.
From the Town and Parish Councils, Arreton, Brading, Freshwater, Godshill, Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council, Niton, Ryde and Totland, who continue to financially support the sites in their areas, to the volunteers helping us maintain the sites, helping in our shop or investigating the heritage, the individual donors and supporters who have joined our supporter scheme and contribute to us each month, the grant organisations, like The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Co- op, and The Peoples Postcode Lottery, who regularly deem us worthy of funding, for special projects like Golden Hill Country Park, Dodnor and Brading Down, and of course The Isle of Wight Council who still contribute significantly towards our work. 
Thank you!
Receiving cheque from The Co-op Newport form their Communities Fund
Volunteers at work and new benches at Brading Down
Signs of Ash Die-back

Ranger Blog - September- October 2020

Welcome to the latest addition of the Gift to Nature Ranger Blog. The end of the year is fast approaching, as is the wet and windy weather, based on the last few weeks. Because of the mild and wet conditions the grass has still managed to grow into the autumn months, meaning that we have been carrying out the last few cuts with the mowers and strimmers, ensuring that all site management work is completed and the sites are ready for new growth and flowering in early spring. As the grass cutting is coming to a close, myself and Nick have been carrying out various tree & hedge work, including felling dead, dying and dangerous trees, removing snapped and broken tree limbs which are over hanging pathways, trimming hedges in order to reduce the height and improve view points, clearing vegetation & brambles away from boundaries fences, and other jobs of this nature.

We have also been visiting our sites across the Island inspecting ash trees for signs of ash dieback, a devastating disease which is unfortunately affecting many ash trees across the island. Ash dieback, (Hymenoscyphus fraxineusis), is a fungal disease which attacks the trees’ internal systems resulting in poor growth and eventual death. It was introduced into the UK around 30 years ago from Asian timber, with cases slowly rising since then. Unfortunately there is no cure for the disease, with ash trees only getting worse and structurally more dangerous once they are infected. When surveying ash trees on sites we have found that several trees are showing signs of ash dieback and declining in health. Because of this, we have had to assess the potential risk of individual trees to the public and have been felling diseased ash trees which pose potential threat to visitors to the sites.
It is a sad time for British woodlands as there are reports that we could potentially lose up to 80% of our native ash trees, however we are adapting to the situation and ensuring that our sites are safe and open for use. Gift to Nature will be producing informative posts on ash dieback in the later months to inform you on what signs to look for, our progress managing the disease and other further information which can be of use to you.

Over the last few weeks we have been working at Brading Down in preparations for the cattle to return to the site. This has included adding new fence posts to prevent the cattle from pushing their way through the fence, adding springs to gates to ensure that they close and are not able to be left open and fixing straining posts to add strength and stability to the fence. All of this added work ensures that the cattle can safely return to the chalk grassland area and can safely graze the site. Cattle grazing is an ancient and very effective way of land management, as low intensity grazing creates a varied and rich wildlife habitat which benefits the natural environment & promotes wildflower growth and reduces tree growth, scrub and rank grass. Expect the cattle to return to the site within the next few weeks.

As it has been for everyone, it has been a strange and challenging year and we have had to adapt & change to a new way of working. However, we have all worked extremely hard and pulled together to ensure that G2N maintains and manages our sites for everyone to enjoy and ensure that everyone has accessible natural areas close to them.
We hope you are all keeping safe and well and are very grateful for all of the love and support you have shown us through these difficult times.

Until next time folks.


Brading Down

Goldcrest Haven 

A very short walk from the centre of Newport is Shide Chalk Pit, the entrance is via a flight of steps from Burnt House Lane, just at the top of the hill from St George’s Way. We love it because it is so peaceful, but it hasn’t always been so. 
The site has probably been in use since the 16th century or earlier. From 1895 chalk from the quarry was used at the Medina Cement works until its closure in 1944 and a railway line went from the Pit through what is now our Pan Mills Meadows reserve and north to Dodnor Cement Works (also a Gift to Nature site).

Now designated as a Local Nature Reserve it is a haven for wildlife. Vegetation has been colonising the floor and sides of the pit and as a result, habitats vary from bare rock to emergent woodland, and all stages in between. Rabbits are our lawnmowers!

Goldcrest and long-tailed tit feed here during the winter. Goldcrests are named after the crest of bright feathers in the middle of their head – a bit punky. This is completely yellow on females, but has an orange centre on males. The rest of the plumage is mainly green-brown. They are really tiny  - the uk’s smallest species of bird. Adults typically weigh just 5g, which is the same as a 20p coin. Goldcrests feed on insects and invertebrates. The bird will flit among tree branches, catching small creatures such as spiders, flies and caterpillars. It often takes food from the underside of branches, hanging upside down to reach its prey.


The Gift to Nature Shop 

Shop News

Like most retail, our little shop in Newport has had a very difficult time of it. We had just got back into the swing of things with shelves full of lovely gifts and useful household and garden items, when the recent restrictions came into force.
Undeterred we have resolved to try to offer as much as we can online and via click and collect 
We have stock on our own online shop, as well as both Ebay and Wightbay so please do continue to support your local countryside by committing to buying local and hopefully from us. 

We will be 'live streaming' on Facebook every Thursday afternoon, to give you a personal guided tour of what we have to offer and Shara and Hannah will be putting together some special gift idea combos and even offering to gift wrap and send direct to your friends and family !
You can call to check availability of stock on 01983 641972.

Please follow us on our Facebook page to keep updated on what offers we are running each week.

Gift to Nature supporters can take advantage of their supporter discount until November 14th, by using a special code at the checkout on our website. 
Supporters will be be notified of that code via email in the next 48hrs. 
If you haven't received yours, please check your junk mail or call us on 01983 296244. 
If you would like to become a supporter please visit our Supporters Page on the website and you will still be in time to receive your shopping discount. 

We are very pleased to say we are also part of the new Wight Gift card scheme, so you will be able to give gift vouchers to your loved ones for them to choose their own gifts. A great way to shop local and introduce our range to more customers.
We will update you via our social media when we have more details
Find us at 12 Holyrood Street Newport - Just opposite Hursts.


Dates for your Diary

All planned events have been postponed until further notice 


Support your local countryside when you shop online 

Please remember to use easyfundraising every time you shop online! Over 4,000 shops and sites will donate, so you can raise FREE donations for us no matter what you’re buying. These donations really help us out, so please sign up if you haven’t yet. It’s easy and FREE! You can get started at

Thank you for your continued interest in the Gift to Nature project. We are a charity and if you can help by making a small donation to our work it would be put to good use in the management of the 29 sites we look after for everyone to enjoy.
If you can help support us please visit our website for how to help

Gift to Nature is part of Natural Enterprise.
Registered charity number 1083233
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