Thousands raised for award winning conservation project to help save UK’s fastest declining bird

Turtle Doves near Sutton Bank
Turtle Doves near Sutton Bank

Celebrities, artists and environmental defenders banded together to raise thousands for a dedicated conservation project committed to saving one of the UK’s most critically endangered birds.

The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project recently received an £8,000 boost following a series of high-profile fundraisers, which included a silent art auction and an eBay sale of over 30 ‘doodle-a-dove’ sketches created by stars of the screen.

The turtle dove is one of the fastest declining species in the UK.

The turtle dove is one of the fastest declining species in the UK.

Since the 1970s there has been a staggering 93 per cent decline in the Turtle Dove population and there may now be fewer than 100 birds nesting in the whole of Yorkshire.

However, the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, North York Moors National Park Authority, Forestry England and Howardian Hills AONB in partnership with RSPB, Scarborough Borough Council, and North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre, aims to help these birds.

Richard Baines, Turtle Dove Project Officer, said: “Even though we still need more funding to keep the project going, the support we have had has been overwhelming.

"I would like to thank all the artists, celebrities and members of the public as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund for all their support.

North York Moors National Park are raising funds to help the bird

North York Moors National Park are raising funds to help the bird

"Such contributions are vital towards reversing the major decline of Turtle Doves that now leaves these once common creatures fighting for survival.

“We’re very fortunate that the landscape of the North York Moors provides one of the last remaining strongholds for the species and we are absolutely committed to increasing the amount of suitable habitats for them.

"This unique bird is on the brink and we must all do what we can to help.”

In total £2,730 was raised via two silent art auctions held at the Inspired by… gallery in Danby and the Low Dalby Courtyard in Dalby Forest. Both featured works by celebrated artists including world-renowned Alan Hunt, Darren Woodhead, Jo Ruth and Jonathan Pomroy.

Another £1,700 was raised through the online sale of over 30 ‘doodle-a-dove’ sketches by celebrities including Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman and Springwatch’s Chris Packham.

Finally, over £3,000 has been raised by Nick Moran and Jonny Rankin after they completed a 163 mile cycle challenge from the British Trust for Ornithology headquarters in Thetford to Kilnsea followed by a marathon in September 2019. Nick also travelled another 171 miles by bike back to Thetford.

The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project was recently awarded the title of Best Conservation Project within all of the UKs 15 National Parks and is determined to continue its fantastic work.

The team are currently looking towards future funding bids to ensure the project’s future, but donations are always welcome. If you wish to support the project or would like to learn more please visit: northyorkmoors.org.uk/turtledoves