Chris Rollason, Deputy Park Manager

I started at Nene Park Trust as a fresh faced trainee back in January 2012 and will be celebrating my tenth year at the Trust early next year. After completing a degree in Earth Science at Northampton University and then a year placement as a Trainee Conservation Officer at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, I was ready for the next chapter of my life. Originally from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, becoming a Park Ranger, who loves nature and the outdoors, was probably not the obvious route for me. Luckily having some family in North Wales meant I was able to spend a lot of time in some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside and so my passion was well and truly instilled at a young age.

I have seen Nene Park change a lot over the past ten years. The number of staff the Trust employs and what the Park can now offer its visitors has massively increased. There are a lot of fresh new faces and fantastic new talent working for the Trust nowadays, but there are still plenty of the old guard around who have a wealth of Park knowledge and who certainly have an interesting tale or two to share! I have had the privilege to work with some fantastic colleagues on some very exciting projects over the years and I certainly look forward to working on many more.

One thing I am particularly proud of while working for the Trust is making the Park a better place for its wildlife as well as its human visitors. One of the first major projects I led on at the Trust was the revision of the Park's mowing regime. By reducing our mowing we were able to leave areas of longer grass that could support a wider range of wildlife and allowed more wildflowers to bloom. This also meant we could reduce the amount of time out on the mowers, which resulted in less exhaust fumes and more Ranger time on other tasks.

Since then I have been involved in a number of exciting and successful projects such as the installation of Tern Islands on Overton Lake, the installation of an artificial Sand Martin bank on Lynch Lake Island, the installation of various bird nest boxes as well as a whole host of other habitat creation and improvement initiatives. This has meant that during my time at the Trust we have seen the first breeding Barn Owls, Sand Martins and Common Terns in the Park for many years, as well as notable increases in the number of invertebrates, mammals and amphibians in the Park.

Perhaps the project I am most proud of is the Bringing Nature Closer project. This project, to restore Heron Meadow to an open wet floodplain, full of wet ditches, scrapes and foot drains has been a huge success. With large numbers of wildfowl regularly overwintering on the meadow and fourteen different species of wader already recorded since the project was completed, Heron Meadow is now booming with life and has some fantastic viewing opportunities for visitors to allow them to get closer to nature. It really is pleasing to see the difference conservation projects like this can make to our native wildlife.

We have recently set up our share farming initiative, which is a true partnership between landowner and farmer where an extensive grazing system is being used to manage our rural land holding in a way that achieves huge benefits for wildlife. By keeping the entire farming system as natural and as local as possible it also makes it a sustainable and environmentally way to farm with high animal welfare standards at its core. Working with our share farmers we hope to deliver some key charitable objectives around conservation, education and community engagement. We are already looking at the possibility of more wetland restoration projects, woodland creation projects, school visits and open farm weekends, amongst a whole host of other exciting ideas.

I don’t know what the future holds in these uncertain times, or where my Nene Park journey will take me next, but one thing I am certain of is that Nene Park will continue to be a haven for wildlife as well as its visitors for a very long time to come.