Essex Wildlife Trust celebrates 60 years of protecting wildlife in Essex

The conservation charity is asking members of the public to help record species to celebrate their anniversary

On October 3rd 1959, a group of Essex volunteers gathered at County Hall Chelmsford. These volunteers were brought together by their concerns for wildlife and habitat protection in Essex, so they formed the Essex Naturalists’ Trust, which would later become Essex Wildlife Trust.

The local conservation charity has grown a lot since then, with 11 visitor centres that see over 1 million visitors through its doors a year, 87 nature reserves managed for wildlife throughout the county, 60,000 children engaged in nature-themed activities a year and highly ambitious environmental projects and species reintroductions to help wildlife thrive.

what started as a few passionate volunteers has paved the way for real community involvement in the county. Now, 2,000 volunteers regularly donate their time to the Trust; from helping to deliver education groups, joining a weekly work party, collecting species records or working behind the scenes in our main office, our extraordinary network of volunteers has allowed Essex Wildlife Trust to continue to grow and do more for wildlife – we’re incredibly thankful to them.

Back in 1959, a network of reserves was seen as the only priority for species protection; whereas today Essex Wildlife Trust uses a whole suite of tools to engage, inspire and educate, still with the overall aim of protecting wildlife around the county.

Sculpture trails, cafes, ecotourism, corporate partnerships, forest schools and social media may not have been on the agenda in the early days, but as an organisation, it’s fundamentally important that we have been able to evolve our way of getting across our message of protecting wildlife and wild places in Essex to an increasingly varied audience. Our aim to protect wildlife for the future remains the same, we have just become more creative in our ways to do so.

Essex Wildlife Trust and its network of reserves have changed significantly over the past 60 years but the Trust is proud that one thing that remains constant is the passion and commitment of the people at the heart of the Trust – the boundless enthusiasm and hard work of its 200 members of staff, 2,000 volunteers and 38,000 members. This was recognised in 2018 with Essex Wildlife Trust being commended by the Best Companies survey as ‘One to Watch’ and subsequently being acknowledged nationally as one of the Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to work for in the UK.

2019 sure is a year of celebration for us as an organisation but despite these accolades, the wildlife in Essex needs a voice more than ever before and Essex Wildlife Trust will continue to protect our wildlife and wild places for the future.

60th Anniversary Species Survey

To commemorate Essex Wildlife Trust’s anniversary, they’re asking members of the public to take part in a species survey for Essex. The conservation charity is asking people to help identify the distribution and number of particular species throughout Essex, by letting them know if you have seen any of the following species in your garden or local area: Hedgehog, House Martin, Brown Hare, Red Kite and the number of different Bumblebee and Butterfly species.

These species have been chosen to include some of Essex’s iconic species, plus some key indicators of change in the environment. Understanding the population status of certain species is vital knowledge for us, it will allow us to gain a greater understanding of the overall state of nature around Essex.

To take part, visit where you will be able to tell the Trust if you have seen any of the above species were you live.