In a difficult year for everyone, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has been delighted by the response to its call for new members to support their work. In July, the Fordingbridge-based charity launched its 500 Club, a proactive move to boost membership and make up for some of the loss of voluntary donations and income estimated to be in the region of £1.4million for 2020. Today, there are fewer than 100 spaces available in this unique club of people adding their support in a time of need.
Their membership supports work nationwide, but this includes important work in the region. The recent LIFE Waders for Real project saw the GWCT working with local land managers to increase the number of lapwing in the Avon Valley between Salisbury and Christchurch. Their hard work saw them rise from 61 pairs in 2015 to 105 in 2019. Prior to the project, lapwing productivity had dropped as low as 0.4 young per pair. By 2019, the figure was 0.96, safely exceeding the critical level for sustainability. The project has also seen remarkable success with the redshank population. Redshank have increased from 19 pairs in 2015 to 35 in 2019.
Asked why they were lending their support to the GWCT, one new member noted, “To be perfectly honest, I should have been a member long ago. The more I found myself using your research for reference I felt it wrong that I was not contributing towards the ‘pot’!”
Other new members referenced the GWCT’s “ability to present hard facts and indisputable scientific evidence” and simply that “I have for a long time admired and appreciated the work done by the GWCT to promote both the interests of shooting and the wildlife with which we share the environment … it is beholden on all of us who enjoy our sport to support the work of the GWCT.”
The 500 Club is open to those deciding to support the GWCT through one of their main membership types*, who make a single annual payment and who are not already a member (or were one in the last 12 months). New members who are part of a shooting syndicate can also join the 500 Club when they sign up for the new Syndicate Membership, saving 30% of the cost of membership for syndicates of eight or more, and enjoy all the benefits of Syndicate membership and the 500 Club.
Elizabeth Cook, who joined in July, is eager for others to follow her lead. She notes:
I joined the GWCT because of its commitment to scientific research around game and conservation. In uncertain times we need to back up our beliefs in the rightness of our actions with facts, proof of those facts and good analysis. We also need to challenge tradition and keep a constant check if we are doing both the right and the best things for our environment. Good scientific research helps us make our world a better place.
Members’ support, through subscriptions and donations, goes towards the GWCT’s leading research, practical advice for land managers and the GWCT’s policy input at government level. Research that has increased global understanding of woodcock, pheasants and partridges, that informs the future of our national agriculture policy and that puts facts at the forefront of decisions made about the countryside.
Those wishing to show their support can join online at www.gwct.org.uk/join or by calling 01425 651024.
Photo: Ringing a lapwing chick