DLF Colour Boost brings conservation closer to home for Wildheart Animal Sanctuary

Louise Challissin Conservation & Ecology

Providing a new home, rest and rehabilitation for rescued animals from across the globe, the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary (formally the Isle of Wight Zoo) have, for the last twelve months, been working on a project to support species much closer to home. With flower mixtures and support from DLF Seeds, the work at the sanctuary and at local schools has been hailed a great success - with Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Bates noting both the improvements in bio-diversity and awareness of the issues affecting our native habitats.

Lawrence began planning the habitat creation with the help of DLF's Paul Hadley in a previous role a few years ago and saw the opportunity to resurrect it upon joining the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in July 2019. "It can be difficult for people to understand how important our behaviour and efforts are for supporting our own native species that are under threat, when a lot of the media focus is on animals on the other side of the globe. Our vision with this project is to look at spaces closer to home, increase the bio-diversity to provide habitats, shelter and food for invertebrates which, in turn, helps animals further up the food chain."

"Paul visited the island and advised on the most suitable species for our new flower meadow on site, but also what would work for projects at some local schools, which weren't going to be maintained by experts!" Selected were Colour Boost 1, a mixture containing quick-to-establish, high impact annuals and Colour Boost 6, comprising of over 40 different species and subspecies, the appearance of which is constantly changing throughout the growing season.

Four flower meadows were sown at the schools on the island prior to the lockdown in March 2020, with the Sanctuary's own meadow then planted in June 2020. "The result from these two Colour Boost mixtures was phenomenal! Not only did the students benefit from the educational programme around wildflowers and conservation, but it completely transformed previously neglected areas of the school sites, and our own site, with hardy blooms that created a dazzling, long-lasting display of colour."

"We received so many lovely comments from Head Teachers with numerous other schools now wanting to get involved. We're also talking to local churches and a number of businesses through the Green Impact Group about new sponsored plots of land." Lawrence concludes, "The programme is growing fast and the impact this will have on the wildlife is exponential! Without DLF and their ongoing support, the project wouldn't have got off the ground."