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HEREFORDSHIRE

AUTUMN 2013

P4Birches Farm

The campaign gathers pace

Incorporating Natural World

P7River issues

Herefordshire Nature Trust membership magazine

Phosphate pollution solutions

P10WildPlay days Community Play Days

Helping to Create a Living Landscape for Herefordshire


Herefordshire Nature Trust Herefordshire Nature Trust Newsletter - Autumn 2013 Including national stories from Natural World magazine Honorary Officers Chair of the Board of Trustees: Marie Clarke Vice Chair: Vacant Hon. Secretary: Vacant Hon. Treasurer: Bob Underhill Chair of Conservation Advisory Group: Sheila Spence Flycatcher Editor: Peter Garner Librarian: Beryl Harding

In this issue 3

Welcome

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Birches Farm The campaign to save this historic Herefordshire farmstead gathers pace

Staff Chief Executive: Vacant Funding Officer: Keith Rawlings Administration Manager: Valerie Bagley Finance Manager: Nicola Inkersole Membership Officer: Bev Bishop Membership Recruitment Officer: Steve Poolton Reserves Manager: Neville Hart Reserves Officer: Sue Holland Reserves Officer: Douglas Lloyd Conservation Manager: Francesca Griffith Parklands Project Manager: Lewis Goldwater Pond Network Project Officer: Nigel Hand Orchard Origins Project Manager: Laurence Green Orchard Origins Project Officer: Julia Morton Learning Manager: Phil Burton LEMUR Project Officer: Stas Calder Senior Nature Play Officer: Jo Dainty Nature Play Officer: Hayley Herridge LEMUR placement: Emma Franks

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Reserve News Orchard Origins Improving peoples well-being through traditional orchard management

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River issues Phosphate contamination of the counties waterways

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A thousand years of building with stone Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust’s new project gets underway in the two counties

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WildPlay Community Play Day for the Hereford Learners

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Celebrity Lecture Archie Miles, renowned photographer and author of “The British Oak”

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Legacies Why we need them

Herefordshire Nature Trust is a company limited by guarantee (number 743899) and a registered charity (number 220173). Herefordshire Nature Trust, Lower House Farm, Ledbury Rd, Tupsley, Hereford, HR1 1UT. Tel: (01432) 356872 Fax: (01432) 275489 email: enquiries@herefordshirewt.co.uk www.herefordshirewt.org

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News & Views

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Diary of Events

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UK News

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Living Seas Sustainable fishing in the North Sea

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Living Landscapes From landfill site to nature reserve, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve

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People & Wildlife New research shows that volunteering can be good for you

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Great Days Out Ten great places for exploring rockpools

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Comment

Herefordshire Nature Trust is one of a network of 47 Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK. Our work locally has already helped to secure the future of many precious habitats and species, enabling them to thrive again. The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts is our national voice and collectively has 1,900 reserves and 806,000 members.

Main cover picture: Red admiral on buddleia (CHRIS HARRIS)

Designed by CJHGraphics. Published by Herefordshire Nature Trust. Printed at Print Plus, Hereford. GARDEN CHAFER (C HARRIS)

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Herefordshire Nature Trust


Welcome

BULLETIN BOARD ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2013

From the

Chairman of the board of Trustees

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s you are aware Colin Cheesman, the Chief Executive, has been struggling with ill health for some time and has been away from work since early March. He has made progress and his health is considerably improved but he feels that progress will continue to be slow. He has therefore decided that it is in the best interests of himself and the Herefordshire Nature Trust to give up his post. This he did, with effect from 31st July 2013. The Board of Trustees has considered and taken advice on how to proceed. We are aiming to recruit a suitable person from outside the organisation to be acting CEO for an interim period of around six months. We are taking advice from RSWT on likely and available candidates for this temporary position and will be hoping to appoint such a person during the next few weeks. Following on from that temporary appointment we shall be working on the process for the appointment of a new CEO. Ideally we would aim to have such an appointment made by April/May of 2014. The Trustees are very aware of the strain, which Colin’s illness and absence has placed on the staff of the Trust and would like to commend them all for the high standards of professionalism and commitment they have shown and the way in which all of them have “stepped up to the plate” during this difficult time. We are also very grateful for the support given by the committed friends and supporters of the work of the organisation who form the membership. I should like to take this opportunity to assure you that, although this has been a very difficult time for all of us, the work of the Trust is thriving, as you will see from this publication.. Marie Clarke (Chairman of the Board of Trustees)

The Trust is holding it’s 50th Annual General Meeting on Saturday 12th October 2013 at 2.30pm (doors open at 2pm) at Hopelands, Weobley Village Hall, Gadbridge Road, Weobley, Herefordshire, HR4 8SN. The event is hosted by the Weobley Branch of the Trust, and will include tea/refreshments, followed by a talk on Hedgehogs by Dr Pat Morris. Everyone welcome. _________________________________

BECOME A TRUSTEE? We would like to hear from members who are interested in becoming Trustees. There are no specific skills or qualifications necessary, other than support for the work of HNT, willingness to work as part of a team and commitment to give the necessary time. If you would like to find out more contact the Chairman, Marie Clarke, via the Trust’s office at Lower House Farm and we’ll send you some more information. _________________________________

VOLUNTEERS WANTED We are looking for volunteers to work in reception at Lower House Farm. The role will include general reception duties such as answering the telephone, transferring calls and taking messages, greeting visitors to the Trust, photocopying, and other general administrative tasks. The times we are looking to cover are Monday afternoons 1pm to 4pm, Thursday mornings 9am to 1pm, and Thursday afternoons 1pm to 4pm. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Val Bagley on 01432 356872, or email v.bagley@herefordshirewt.co.uk. _________________________________

UPDATE ON ASH DIE BACK At the time of writing only one outbreak of ash die back had been identified in Herefordshire, in planted ash saplings that have now been removed and destroyed. However, chalara has been found in Wales, and so there is a very good chance it is in other woods in the county. The Forestry Commission has produced information on how to identify the disease in the wild: www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara. If you suspect a tree has chalara you can report it online on their tree alert form: www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert. _________________________________ FOR MORE NEWS & VIEWS GO TO PAGE 13 BIRCHES FARM (C HARRIS)

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There are at least 5 species of orchid at Birches Farm, including southern marsh orchid much positive feedback from participants who managed to see five species of orchids amongst the other rare flora the site supports, and successfully munched their way through mountains of cakes and biscuits, many donated by local volunteers. It was great to meet and discuss the farm’s history and the recollections of the many local farmers who came to visit the farm and remember the farming activities of the late owner, Alfred Price and his family. The heritage of the site is without question as it not only supports nationally rare grassland flora, it contains the historical farmstead buildings in need of restoration and a local social historical record held within the farming diaries of Alfred, spanning from 1930s through to the 1990s. Trust staff are working towards an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund

Birches Farm The campaign to save this historic Herefordshire farmstead gathers pace 4 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

(HLF) in September 2013 that will, if successful, ultimately fund the purchase and restoration of the heritage features here. HLF will only fund up to 90% of these costs and thus the need for the Trust to raise additional income from a range of sources forms our latest appeal for £100,000, mailed out to members back in July. The farm is currently only secured on a 2 year lease and will be sold off if the Trust cannot fund its purchase from its current owners, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The Trust needs to raise this £100,000 to achieve our ultimate goal and will be approaching residents and businesses in the county for their support. Members of the Trust have already given generously to our appeal and coupled with the additional financial support already received, the Trust is slowly on its way towards ‘Saving Birches Farm’ for Trust members and county residents to visit, understand and enjoy. Readers will find out more about the future in the winter edition of Wildside, when the full plans for restoring the farm will be revealed! Neville Hart Reserves Manager

For further information about the Birches Farm appeal please visit the Trust website: www.herefordshirewt.org/birchesfarm

Reserves Manager, Neville Hart, leads a guided walk around one of the meadows during the Open Day

Herefordshire Nature Trust

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he race to ‘Save Birches Farm’, a nationally important grassland and historic farmstead near Kington has gathered momentum over the past few months. A successful local meeting held at The Burton Hotel in Kington back in May brought locals, Trustees and Trust members together to hear two talks, one by local ecologist and historian David Lovelace and the other by Neville Hart, Reserves Manager. David talked about the history of the Kingswood area and the historical context of the farm whilst Neville’s talk highlighted the importance of this site and how the Trust was hoping to fund and restore the farm. Local Kington resident and Trust’s Vice President, Lawrence Banks (OBE) generously chaired the meeting on behalf of the Trust which was much appreciated. June saw many visitors to two Open Days held at the farm where guided walks, pond dipping and other activities were on offer. Participants discovered why this site needs saving, the Trust’s restoration plans, and ultimately how the Trust plans to fund this acquisition. Both open days were sponsored by local solicitors, Lanyon Bowdler and the Trust is grateful to solicitors, Derek Cook and Douglas Godwin, for their attendance at the open days, their ongoing support for our venture and financial assistance. A big thank you also has to go to Mike Williams, who volunteered his services as one of the walk leaders and the many Kington Branch volunteers who helped out with organizing car parking and dishing out tea and cakes. There was

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Birches Farm


S WALKER

D LLOYD

Reserve News The Wednesday volunteer group celebrating longtime volunteer Nancy Preece’s 90th birthday.

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Burnet moths on knapweed, Davies Meadow

Herefordshire Nature Trust

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reserves without wardens and it is always beneficial to the Trust to have another pair of eyes to note the wildlife and general condition of the site. Please contact Doug Lloyd d.lloyd@herefordshirewt.co.uk for more information about wardening. As previously reported the pond at Wessington was successfully restored during spring 2012 with the help of volunteers and funding from Severn Waste Services. Survey work this spring showed just how successful this work was with the discovery of all three native species of newt using the pond, and also the discovery of a pregnant grass snake nearby which we hope will utilise the compost heap, which we have created specifically for this reptile to lay her eggs in. In August of 2011 the mid-week volunteer teams helped with cutting and transportation of flower seed rich hay from the nearby Common Hill reserve to an area at Wessington that had been prepared by volunteers to receive this donor seed. Two years on and the results are plain to see, with over 50 cowslips and 20 orchids flowering in the previously grassdominated area, together with other species such as lady’s bedstraw, knapweed, bird’s foot trefoil and many others, make this not just a success from a wildlife point of view but also for the volunteer teams who work so hard on these tasks. Doug Lloyd Reserves Officer

Great crested newt, Wessington Pasture C HARRIS

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he grassland at Titley was a fantastic sight this summer with spring flowers such as bluebell and wood anemone still on show in June, alongside ragged robin, marsh thistle, over 200 heath spotted orchids, knapweed, meadow buttercup, some lady’s mantle and masses of pignut flowers, which were mostly growing in areas previously dominated by bracken. These previously bracken dominated areas are now very flowery with very little bracken due to the huge amount of volunteer effort - over 370 hours spent cutting bracken at TItley alone over the past five years. So the beauty of the grassland can be, in no small part, attributed to this hard work and dedication! The flowery nature of the grassland in turn supports a broad range of invertebrates with bees feeding on the flowers, and gatekeeper, large skipper, orange tip, numerous whites, common blue, small tortoiseshell and peacock butterfly all present, as were lots of damselflies and a couple of hawker dragonflies on patrol. Our new warden at Davies Meadow, Sam Walker, has provided us with some good information on species he has noted there this year. These include green winged and common spotted orchids, burnet and chimney sweeper moths and, most interesting, the successful breeding of a pair of lapwing adjacent to the reserve with the young later seen over the reserve itself. There are still a few of the nature

Grass snake, Wessington Pasture

Green-winged orchids, Davies Meadow C HARRIS

Reserve News

Bee on marsh thistle, Davies Meadow

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ORCHARD ORIGINS

Orchard Origins

Improving people’s wellbeing through traditional orchard management

Volunteers harvesting apples at Lower House Farm orchard. Inset (from top): Scouts enjoying a talk about orchards and wildlife. Mind volunteers planting new orchard trees.

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ne year after the start of a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, Orchard Origins is celebrating the improvements we have made to traditional orchards and the people who have benefitted from working in them. Traditional orchards are very special places for people and wildlife, deeply embedded in our rural psyche the word “orchard” evokes images of trees bedecked with spring blossom and autumnal boughs laden with apples. Well for us these images sit alongside a group of people happily working away, improving the quality of the orchard habitat, the longevity of the trees and thus their productive life. They are also improving their own physical and mental wellbeing in the process. Working in partnership with Herefordshire Mind enables us to support those volunteers who have experienced mental distress and their feedback is proof positive of the benefits of being outside, sharing experiences and learning new skills. We are also linking up with local schools and Scout groups for fun sessions explaining the value of orchards as habitats (and giving them the chance to live the life of a noble chafer!) Tim Dixon from the Colwall Orchard Group is supporting us with his expertise in orchard management, helping us to learn and reinforce the skills we need and

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using his fantastic teaching skills to share the knowledge in a series of training days. Trust members can access these courses at a discounted rate, see Diary of Events in this issue of Wildside for details. As a result of this training we now provide practical management advice to the owners of 12 orchards covering close to 30 acres, not a bad start in addition to the 11 acres of orchards owned and managed by the Trust. While we won’t be picking on every site unless this year’s crop is as poor as 2012, we expect to harvest some 10 acres this autumn. If you would like to join in do let us know, it’s a great way to get out and about in our beautiful county, provides gentle(ish) exercise and is even fun! It can also be a great team building activity, so if you’d like to come along with a group of colleagues, a class from school or a club or society and help us make a difference to people’s wellbeing and this unique habitat, get in touch. Our chutneys, compotes, apple curd and traditional fruit sweets have been sold at markets throughout Herefordshire and will be joined by cider, perry, juice

and cider vinegar this year. Selling these products will contribute to sustaining the social enterprise, allowing us to continue our work. Please get in touch if you would like to actively support us, we are looking for volunteers to sell on our behalf at village markets. We will be out and about throughout this season, with highlights including another of our fantastically popular family pick and press days with Wildplay at Lower House Farm on 13th October, followed by a cider apple pick at Warham Court on 19th October (both part of hEnergy week) and showcasing our products at the Flavours of Herefordshire Festival on 4th and 5th of November. There have been many highlights so far from working with the Houghton Project to plant a new orchard at their care farm to seeing the real benefits that volunteering brings to people’s wellbeing. Our immediate challenge is harvesting and product creation so if you would like to help us then please get in touch with Laurence or Julia at orchards@herefordshirewt.co.uk or telephone 01432 356872. Our progress can be followed on the Nature Trust’s website, Facebook and our blog www.herefordshirewt.org/orchard_origins www.facebook.com/OrchardOrigins www.orchardorigins.wordpress.com Laurence Green and Julie Morton

Herefordshire Nature Trust


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erefordshire’s rivers are particularly important for wildlife and the Lower Wye and the Lugg are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) because of their species-rich environment. This obliges us to maintain or restore these protected habitats. However, high levels of phosphate cause deterioration in river quality since it leads to excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae which, when they die and decompose, block out the light and deplete the available oxygen in the water, a process called eutrophication. Phosphate levels below 0.3mg/litre are considered necessary to maintain the desired river quality. Unfortunately this level has been breached in the Lugg and is likely to be exceeded in the Wye. Phosphates occur naturally and are bound to soil particles so that controlling soil erosion and dirty water run-off is a key issue. Phosphates are added through the fertilisers and manures farmers spread on their land, from some industrial activities and from our human waste, detergents and washing powders. The sources of phosphates in our rural rivers are roughly 50:50 from agriculture and non-agricultural sources respectively. Phosphates enter the river in two distinct ways, via “point sources”, usually a waste water pipe from a waste water discharge or sewage works, and “diffuse sources”, such as water running off the land and sediment from soil erosion. Point sources are generally easier to control because if you know where a

High levels of phosphate can cause exessive growth of algae and aquatic plants, leading to eutrophocation

pipe discharges you can monitor and manage its flow, whilst diffuse sources are more difficult to manage because they are geographically widespread and vary with the prevailing weather, our land usage and the way we behave. To try and control phosphate therefore requires a three-pronged approach: • Making sure that point sources are properly monitored and that, where possible, technology is in place to reduce the phosphate load in the water. Larger sewage works and industrial works have technology in place to remove phosphates before discharging. • Tackling diffuse sources in agriculture by helping farmers site their manure heaps in appropriate locations, matching their fertiliser inputs to the nutrient demands of the crops being grown (most farmers test for

nitrogen but not for phosphates), fencing off rivers so that cattle don’t add to the erosion of the river bank, etc. • Tackling diffuse sources from nonagricultural sources by making sure that clean water is not mixed with foul water, maintaining sceptic tanks and cess pits, and reducing the phosphates in detergents and washing powders. Whilst the farming community already benefits from information and advice through the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice and organisations such as the Wye and Usk Foundation and Catchment Senstive Farming, it is less common for community groups to understand their contribution, positively or negatively, to the phosphates in our water. We are keen to develop such approaches. For example, a community group on the River Clun recently undertook a survey of sceptic tanks to assess whether they were regularly emptied and properly maintained. The local primary school is monitoring the sediments in the river and the data are used by the Environment Agency. A “water harvest festival” was held as the culmination of a weekend of activities centred on the river involving creative writing, singing workshops, pond dipping, demonstrations of appropriate technologies and so on. Conserving our environment can be fun as well as worthy! Nick Read OBE FRAgS Director, The Bulmer Foundation

River issues Nick Read, Director of The Bulmer Foundation, outlines some of the steps being taken to reduce the incidence of phosphate pollution in the counties waterways.

Herefordshire Nature Trust

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Phosphates in water


A Thousand Years of Building with Stone The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust’s new stone heritage project gets underway in the two counties

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fter two years of careful planning and a consultation which received over 500 responses or requests to be kept informed, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust received an award of £393,000 from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and is now a little over six months into a project running until the summer of 2016. ‘A Thousand Years of Building with Stone’ will trace the history of stone buildings and re-discover forgotten quarries throughout the two counties. The project builds on survey work undertaken a few years ago for the national Strategic Stone Study by English Heritage. This survey combined data from the British Geological Survey record of pits with notes about listed and important stone buildings to create a

resource for mineral planners. Although this study created a useful indication of the variation and distribution of stone built buildings nationally, the project did not support in-depth research of stone sources, neither did it cover the full range of stone built structures or incorporate any public engagement opportunities. The study did highlight a lack of accurate geological background with many rock types mis-identified or simply described as “stone”. This project, running in both Herefordshire and Worcestershire will examine local stone use from two main angles – fieldwork and desk-based research. The former will involve looking at quarries but also at the buildings themselves. The latter will involve studying records and information on the sources of stone, and the community and

social history related to building in stone. The full range of heritage buildings will be considered: everything from castles and bridges to local churches, village halls, homes, agricultural buildings and even walls and paving. For the quarries, individual sites will be recorded and detailed technical work is planned to link buildings with their quarry sources, including lost or forgotten quarries. Herefordshire and Worcestershire represent one of the most diverse areas of geology in the UK with every geological period from the Precambrian to the Quaternary, with the exception of the Cretaceous, outcropping somewhere within the two counties. This in turn helps to create the wonderful varied landscape and habitats of the county and leads to very diverse approaches to the use of stone as a building material.

St Andrews Church, Bredwardine – the paler patches of stone in this wall are tufa, a lightweight limestone formed locally in the Golden Valley by precipitation of calcite from lime rich springs over moss and algae. The pale coloured blocks contrast with the darker Devonian sandstone.

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Herefordshire Nature Trust

H&W EARTH HERITAGE TRUST

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust


Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust

H&W EARTH HERITAGE TRUST

During the development phase for the project twenty six possible cluster areas, either rich in stone-built buildings or representative of the stratigraphy, were considered. From these, the project will work on a sixteen, eight per county, with Ross-on-Wye and Hereford earmarked as the first two Herefordshire clusters to receive attention. (see attached map of cluster areas). The new team started work in February and has spent the first few months becoming familiar with the cluster areas through field visits, visiting a working stone quarry to observe how stone is extracted and processed and visiting the few sites known to have supplied stone for particular buildings. A publicity flyer (copy included with this newsletter) has been created and contact made with people who have asked to be kept informed. A Twitter feed, @BuildingStones and a blog site, lostquarries.wordpress.com have also been set up to allow people to follow progress. The team has also run several public events including lectures explaining the project, a stand at the Three Counties Show, with a stone mason carving a dragon water-spout over the three days and some introductory sessions for cluster groups. We had a stand at The Hereford Show on 4th August, with a stone walling demonstration. Several local groups in Herefordshire are also now booking us as part of their autumn lecture programme. Some fifty volunteers have already been recruited. An active cluster group is already underway in Ross photographing stone buildings in the town and other groups are emerging in the Kington/ Leominster and Ewyas Harold areas. We wish to get more clusters underway in Herefordshire, so please do get in touch if this project appeals – it should be a way to learn about geology quite literally on your doorstep. Volunteers will be trained to research

Map of proposed cluster areas in Herefordshire and Worcestershire

and record archival sources, to identify stone types and building styles and to organise events and activities. Some will learn how to conduct guided walks, others will become ‘ambassadors’ to address community groups about the project and there will be workshops ranging from dry-stone walling to historical research methods. Local interest groups, schools, community organisations, conservation agencies, quarry owners and professionals are all being encouraged to become involved in the project. A significant output from the project will be a website front end to a new database linking buildings to stone sources. The new database is intended to help home and landowners, local authorities and conservation bodies seeking to protect historic stone buildings to source either the correct replacement stone or a suitable alternative. Technical analysis is planned to help identify the characteristic qualities of stones used historically and match samples to their sources or alternatively, give detailed specifications for selecting suitable alternatives with similar weathering properties. Analyses will be undertaken on thin sections of samples collected from sites and buildings to assess mineralogy, grain-size and pore-size distributions. Potential techniques for further analysis include a range of materials, science based tests, scanning-electron-microscopy to  Visitors exploring the project stand at the Three Counties Show

Herefordshire Nature Trust

discriminate between superficially similar samples and X-ray fluoroscopy for limestone analysis. The team also anticipate potential forays into Lidar and other remote sensing techniques to relocate lost quarries, whether backfilled or overgrown. Publications will be created from a basic field guide to a more glossy county brochure on building stones and the team is looking into either a smart phone ‘app’ or linking geological information to existing Wikipedia sites about sites and buildings. Educational materials will help teachers plan projects for schools about the vital role that locally-quarried stone played in building projects until the early 20th century. The team is keen to work with other projects covering linked themes and will be running a joint visit to the Kington area with the Herefordshire Parklands team in July. Links with local history societies, the HERN teams and the Woolhope Club are being established. The team can be contacted on building.stones@worc.ac.uk 01905 542014 The project team comprises • Kate Andrew – Project manager (Wed and Thursdays only) • Beth Andrews – Community consultant (Tue-Fri) • Elliot Carter – Technical consultant (Mon –Thur) For further information please contact k.andrew@worc.ac.uk or one of the above team members on the generic e-mail address

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n the 8th June WildPlay organised a Community Play Day, situated adjacent to the River Wye on Bishops Meadows in Hereford. It was a time to celebrate for the recently graduated Take 5 for Play learners. These special events are intended not only as a free family event but an opportunity for the newly qualified play workers to showcase their skills by facilitating their own nature play activities. “We involve them from the very beginning” says Jo Dainty the Senior Community Nature Play Ranger Officer. “Alongside the Take 5 for Play training each learner has WILDPLAY to complete 10 hours of Playwork practice with WildPlay, with the community play day being the pinnacle. This is an opportunity for them to put theory into practice, gain experience and practical skills WILDPLAY in a professional context. We involve them in every stage of organising the event, planning, preparation and delivery.” The event was a remarkable success, blessed by sunshine and visited by an estimated 700 people during the course of three hours! There were 20 different activities for children to get involved in including sensory tree activities, planting seeds, peddle a smoothie, cooking on a fire, water play, races and parachute games, bee and butterfly crafts and the highlight…a mud kitchen! This came with

a warning sign ‘Caution: Extreme levels of mud!’ offering children those vitally important sensory play opportunities, creating all sorts of muddy delights to be served to willing customers at the Willow Warbler mud café! All these activities were chosen and delivered by the Hereford learners. Rosie Webley, parent of one said “The WildPlay event was fantastic to go to, it was great seeing WILDPLAY children happily playing outside and learning new things. My daughter loved the drumming workshop.” Newly qualified playworker Sue Hart said, ‘It was a beautiful day, the weather was glorious, it was well organised, imaginative and fun.’ Without doubt this event has set a precedent for the future. It was well executed by a dynamic team, well attended and those responsible should feel a sense of pride in their contribution. WildPlay wish the Hereford learners all the best in providing future nature play opportunities in their own communities and will continue to offer support in the future. We are now offering the Take 5 for Play training in Ledbury. The Community Play Day will be held in Ledbury on the 29th October, 11-2pm, venue TBC (please see website for more information). Expect to see an array of nature play activities for all the family. We have no doubt it will be equally as successful and not a date to be missed! Hayley Herridge Nature Play Ranger Training Officer

A Successful Community Play Day for the Hereford Learners

WILDPLAY

Take 5 for Play graduates at the Community Play Day, Bishops Meadow. Above: Face painting, water play and mud kitchen!

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Dedicated supporters

Long-term volunteer Nancy Preece celebrating her 90th birthday at Wessington Pasture Nancy Preece has been a long term volunteer for the Trust. Over the last 30 years she has worked tirelessly with the Wednesday reserves volunteer group, and recently the group celebrated Nancy’s 90th birthday at Wessington pasture, She also helps at other events often serving teas and selling cakes in her usual welcoming style. Doug, the Boss, allowed us a little extra time for our lunch so that we could picnic in celebration of Nancy !! Anne Caunt has been secretary of the Kington Branch for the past 25 years, putting together the programme for the Branch and finding and organising the speakers.She has also been a Trustee of the Trust and has fulfilled many other roles. In addition to that Anne, for many years, has delivered the mailing of the newsletters in the Kington area. These are two of the many volunteers who support the Trust and help to keep its work going. Our thanks and appreciation go out to them and all the others who put in many hours of hard work.

Volunteer Awards, 2013 Once again the Trust is asking members to put forward their suggestions for volunteers who they would like to see recognised for their contributions to Trust work. The categories are Volunteer of the Year, Long Service, Best Newcomer, and Outstanding Contribution. Please e-mail your suggestions for the attention of Sue Holland, Reserves Officer, to enquiries@herefordshirewt.co.uk or phone 01432 356872 and leave a message. Deadline for nominations is 31st October, 2013.

Herefordshire Nature Trust

HNT

WildPlay


Celebrity Lecture

‘The British Oak’ - A Celebrity Lecture by Archie Miles Friday 8th November @ The Griffin Centre, Hereford Sixth Form College

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rchie Miles, renowned Herefordshire based wildlife photographer and writer, in association with the Herefordshire Nature Trust, will be giving a talk about his latest book ‘The British Oak. Doors will open at 6.30pm and wine and light refreshments will be available The British Oak is a superb illustrated monograph on Britain’s most iconic tree. In his talk, Archie will examine the many different aspects of the oak that have made it such an icon of the British countryside. By sharing some fascinating stories about the most historic and important specimens scattered throughout Herefordshire and Britain, he

ARCHIE MILES

Renowned author and photographer Archie Miles contemplating the Gospel Oak

will explain why the oak is pre-eminent among British trees, historically, culturally, topographically and biologically. Along the way, and illustrated by his stunning photographs, Archie will talk about many of his remarkable experiences seeking out Britain’s heritage trees. He will also happily pass on some top photographic tips, hard learned from his years trying to capture the essence of the British oak. A Q&A session will follow the talk with opportunities to buy signed copies of his book. Archie has travelled extensively throughout the UK and abroad to photograph many of the world’s great and rarest trees as well as document the

huge diversity of woodland and forest habitats. As a result he has built up an outstanding library of over 300,000 photographs, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of tree related images in the UK. He frequently gives illustrated tree-related lectures, ranging from talking to small groups in village halls up to large crowds in such prestigious venues as The British Museum, Kew Gardens and the Hay Festival. Tickets must be bought in advance and are available from Trust Branches and Lower House Farm, and cost £10.00 for members and £12.00 non-members.

The Trust’s new Chair

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Marie Clarke became a member of the Herefordshire Nature Trust in 2002, when she and her husband moved to live in Herefordshire just after their retirement. After taking a degree in biochemistry she had worked for some time at the John Innes Institute in Norfolk, specialising in microbial genetics but then went on to spend most of her career in education, with the last 14 years of that career spent as Head Teacher of a large secondary school in the West Midlands. Post retirement she has continued to work part-time as an Educational Consultant. Marie joined the Board of Trustees in October 2005. She brought to the Board considerable experience as an educational manager, with an interest in administration, human resources, business management and governance. She was a member of various committees, being part of the Trustees/Staff group looking into the role of Trustees and preparing a more structured way of measuring performance of the Board. She has been an active and conscientious Trustee and in January 2011 became Vice Chair. In November 2012, with the retirement of Roger Beck as Chairman at the completion of his term of office, she took over as Chair of the Board. Betty Winser

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Legacies - why we need them

A

ll charities are continually asking for their work to be remembered in people’s wills so that they can continue, but sometimes their members must wonder what that welcome money is used for. So, to highlight just a few legacies that have helped the Trust’s conservation work in recent years. Steve Milligan. Many of us who have worked with the Trust for some years have fond memories of those who have gone before, and so some of the longer serving of the reserve work parties will remember Steve Milligan. After his retirement, Steve did many years on the reserves as a volunteer, entertaining the Wednesday group with his lively sense of humour and his sense of fun. He was part of a close Hereford family and had many stories of the area to tell. When he could no longer do active work as his sight was failing, he spent some years in a nursing home and has recently died. It was of

great benefit to the Trust to hear that he had left a legacy in his will to be used for the nature reserves. So this sum has been put to the new Birches reserve which we are working hard to acquire. Dave Jones. Also an active volunteer with the Trust for many years, Dave could put his hand to helping in many ways and became a familiar figure around Lower House Farm, often helping with the machinery and visiting nature reserves to see what needed doing, as well as leading the Wednesday group of volunteers. Sadly, Dave became ill and died in 2009, but his legacy enabled the reserves work parties to have the use of a powered barrow to assist with the hauling of logs and equipment, much needed when some of the Trust reserves are quite large. The Parks. Bought by the Trust in 2009. It was once part of the Dulas Estate which was in the ownership of the Parry family between about 1400 and 1840; Blanche Parry being a Lady-in-

Waiting to Queen Elizabeth 1. The reserve consists of 44 acres of mainly unimproved grassland supporting a rich diversity of species, with the Dulas brook running through it. The Trust was fortunate to benefit from legacies left by Mrs. J.L. Buckley, Mr. C.A.J.Jarrold and Mr. Arthur A.R. Wilkes which supported its purchase. Marek Mayer. It was the wish of his family that some of his legacy should be used to fund the purchase of Parky Meadow, a nature reserve in the Wigmore basin, an area where the Trust did not have many reserves. This reserve is on the flood plain of the River Teme, and is now an established part of the Trust’s 54 nature reserves. So although these people have gone, their interest and support of the Trust lives on to be remembered by colleagues and family when they visit nature reserves. What better way to leave a living legacy? Betty Winser

The Parks nature reserve features 44 acres of unimproved grassland and was purchased with the help of several generous legacies.

Steve Milligan, third from right, was a regular volunteer with the work party. His generous bequest will help with the purchase of Birches Farm.

12 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Herefordshire Nature Trust

C HARRIS

Legacies


News & Views

News & Views works across 12 nature reserves and a contribution to replacing the Trust’s old minibus. This comes on the back of a donation of £32,242 for last financial year. The Trust is indebted to the staff at SWS and WTOF for their continuing commitment to helping support biodiversity in the county and funding work that directly benefits wildlife on some of the best sites in the county. Severn Waste Services have been a dedicated financial supporter of the Trust and ‘wildlife champions’ since 2003. _______________________________

GOOD NEWS FOR ORCHARDS! The publication of ‘Wildflower Meadows in Monmouthshire: Ten years of conserving and restoring flower-rich grasslands’ marks the tenth anniversary of the very successful voluntary local wildflower charity, Monmouthshire Meadows Group. The book chronicles the group’s work since 2003, with stories from members about their own experiences, and many hints, tips and lessons on restoring and caring for wildflower meadows. Its aim is to publicise the group’s work, promote good practice and spread the word to encourage others to create wild areas on their land, whether they have rolling acres or a small back garden. MMG chairman Stephanie Tyler explained “We want to show how a community group can make a difference, but it’s also a good read with some lovely photographs!” The book is A4 format with 48 pages and over 70 photographs taken by members and supporters from partner organisations. Contact Maggie Biss on 01989 750740 or on mouthmeadows@aol.co.uk to get hold of your copy. It costs £5.00 plus £2.00 postage. Supported by the Wye Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund. _______________________________

SEVERN WASTE SUPPORT Landfill Operator, Severn Waste Services (SWS) have come up trumps again with another big financial commitment to the Trust’s work in managing nature reserves and supporting volunteers for 2013/14. Through their ‘Landfill Communities Fund’, a further commitment of £25,000 has been made, donated through the grant giving charity, ‘Welcome To Our Future’ (WTOF). This vital funding will cover the costs needed to implement a range of practical reserve improvements and management

Herefordshire Nature Trust

Traditional orchards are a much loved part of the Herefordshire landscape and a fantastic habitat for wildlife. In recent years though they have been under serious threat; over 60% have disappeared since the 1950's and many of them have fallen into disuse. A new project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, has been set up to tackle this; led by Malvern Hills AONB and supported by partners across the Three Counties. It aims to restore existing traditional orchards for people and for wildlife by getting more people involved in managing them and using them. We're aware that some of the skills needed to manage these orchards are vanishing with the old 'orchardeers' so we are hoping to train volunteers in all aspects of orchard management - from fruit identification to practical pruning and grafting and even through to cider and juice making! We will match volunteers with orchard owners and they will then manage or even 'adopt' an orchard to renovate. In Herefordshire we'll be working to the West of the City and around the Garway area. Herefordshire Nature Trust and Orchard Origins are enthusiastic partners in the project and will be helping to provide the skills and expertise we need to make the project a success. So if you have a traditional orchard in need of restoration or would like to become a volunteer please contact Karen Humphries on khumphries@worcestershire.gov.uk or telephone 01684 560616. _______________________________

UK FUNGUS DAY 2013 An exciting national project across the whole of UK is to be held on and around 13th October this year and Herefordshire Nature Trust will be involved. Find out more at www.ukfungusday.co.uk. On Saturday 19th October, 2013 there will be a Fungus Walk, again led by local fungus enthusiast Sheila Spence, at Lea & Pagets reserve in the Woolhope Dome area. Full details about the walk and booking arrangements will be published nearer the time on the HNT website and hopefully in the local press. Lea and Pagets reserve is well known for its wealth of fungi and we look forward to finding some exciting things there again this year. We will be searching for the usual culprits such as Jew’s ears and cramp balls but will also be looking for the rarer fungi too. For instance the now rare Rhodotus palmatus, or wrinkled peach, has regularly been found in Lea and Pagets in recent years despite becoming very rare due to loss of habitat – it traditionally grows on dead elm trees. The good edible wood blewit commonly grows in these woods, along with the not-so-edible clouded agaric. Whilst some people with strong digestions insist they can eat and enjoy clouded agarics with impunity most of us learn to steer clear of them – come along and find out how to identify both species and ensure you know how to tell which is which. Full details of this walk will be available from the Trust office nearer the time or check out the website for details.

FUNGI AROUND THE RESERVES Last year our fungus walk visited the Doward and despite the weather forecast we had a very interesting walk round the White Rocks reserve where we saw some really unusual fungi along the way. Some quite rare and others whilst common, still

S SPENCE

MONMOUTHSHIRE MEADOWS

exciting to find and including jelly babies, cramp balls, Jew’s ears, giant clubs, porcelain fungus, blue roundhead and turkeytail to name but a few. The weather put a few people off but those who braved it saw a wealth of fungi, and stayed dry to boot! _______________________________

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 13


News & Views

News & Views NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2013 Notice is hereby given that the 50th. Annual General Meeting of the Herefordshire Nature Trust Limited will be held on Saturday 12th October 2013 at 2.30pm (doors open at 2pm) at Hopelands, Weobley Village Hall, Gadbridge Road, Weobley, Herefordshire, HR4 8SN. The event is hosted by the Weobley Branch of the Trust, and will include tea/refreshments, followed by a talk on Hedgehogs by Dr Pat Morris. The programme for the afternoon is as follows: • 2.30 pm Annual General Meeting, followed by light refreshments • 4.00 pm Talk – Hedgehogs by Dr Pat Morris Business to be transacted: • Apologies for non-attendance. • Approve the Minutes of the 49th Annual General Meeting held on 20th October 2012. * • Matters Arising from the Minutes. • Presentation by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Report for 1st April 2012 to 31st March 2013. • Presentation of the Accounts by the Hon. Treasurer for 1st April 2012 to 31st March 2013. • Report of the Auditors, Messrs Thorne Widgery. • Appointment of Auditors for 2013/14. • Election of members to fill vacancies on the Board of Trustees. Nominations for any member of the Trust, together with seconder’s confirmation, and certificate of member’s willingness to act, should be sent to reach the Administration Manager at the Trust office by no later than Friday, 20th September 2013. Employed staff are not eligible for election. • Any Other Business.

AGM SPEAKER

A BARREL OF BIRDS.

Dr Pat Morris was Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway, University of London until taking early retirement in 2002. There he taught generations of students, many of whom have worked in biology and conservation as a result. He is best known for his studies on hedgehogs, but has also been involved in studying water voles, bats, dormice and red squirrels and managing a major research and conservation programme on hazel dormice for 'English Nature', (now Natural England) the Government's principal conservation agency. He is a Council member of the National Trust and has been Chairman of its Nature Conservation Advisory Panel, also a Vice President of the London Wildlife Trust, and a member of two other county wildlife trusts, the RSPB, and various other natural history and conservation organisations. He is a popular lecturer on various topics. He has also had a long-standing interest in the history of taxidermy and has published papers on this topic. On the recommendation of the Guild of Taxidermists, he has been appointed one of DEFRA’s taxidermy inspectors for the purpose of assessing age and authenticity of antique taxidermy. In 2012 he was awarded the Founder's Medal by the Society for the History of Natural History. _______________________________

One of the casualties of the new Sustrans Cycleway in Hereford was the loss of sandbanks which were used by nesting sand martins. As compensation for this habitat loss, Hereford Council/Amey erected some artificial nest-sites in the form of two gigantic barrels on stilts. These have been placed next to the river opposite the Hereford Sewage Works. Initially the barrels were filled with a sandy gravel mixture and Herefordshire Ornithology Club was asked, via Herefordshire Nature Trust, to monitor the site. Gerald Parker and Susannah Grunsell agreed to do this monitoring but the barrels were unused last year. Following two meetings with Amey's Mr Frecknall, during which they sought advice on how to make the artificial nest barrels more sand martin friendly, it was decided that the barrels should be emptied and redesigned with some bespoke nesting holes. HOC were invited to help do this so, in early February, a select group of five energetic (foolhardy) volunteers set out to implement the new design. First we had to dig out all the old filling which was pretty hard going. The barrels were then gradually refilled with vermiculite which the gardeners among you may have used for potting seeds. As we slowly filled up the barrels, behind each of the nesting holes, we placed a short length of plastic drainpipe with a closed end (Amey’s main contribution was preparing these pipes!). A small amount of coarse sand was put into each pipe/hole for the birds to make their nests. The vermiculite is just ballast to keep the pipes in place. Gerald and Susannah will be watching to see whether the sand martins reward our efforts. This technique has been used successfully elsewhere in the UK so it’s not as crazy as it might seem.

MEMBERSHIP FOR LIFE You may not be aware that we offer a Life Membership scheme that more and more people are taking advantage of. For a oneoff payment of £500 you can be a member of the Trust and receive all our mailings and benefits without having to worry about renewing. As an added bonus, anyone becoming a Life Member and signing to gift aid will receive one title from a selection of new naturalist books. For more information please contact Bev Bishop at the Trust. _______________________________

Jim Wilkinson

Under Section 324 of the Companies Act 2008, Herefordshire Nature Trust Ltd. members are entitled

NEWSLETTER DELIVERIES

to appoint another person as his/her proxy to

We are in need of some volunteer deliverers in the following areas to help out three times a year : Madley, Kingstone, Bobblestock, Mordiford, Holme Lacy, Putson, Redhill, Hinton. If you are able to lend a hand please contact Bev Bishop at the Trust.

exercise all or any of their rights to attend, speak and vote at a meeting of the Herefordshire Nature Trust. Forms of Appointment of Proxy may be obtained from the office of the Herefordshire Nature Trust.

* Minutes available prior to AGM.

14 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Herefordshire Nature Trust


Diary of Events

Diary

of Events

September - December 2013

Details of branch events are correct at time of going to press. Please contact Branch Secretaries to confirm before travelling to events.

Tuesday 29th October KINGTON BRANCH indoor meeting

Celebrity Lecture - An Evening with Hugh Warwick, author of 'A Prickly Affair' and 'The Beauty in the Beast.'

Anyone taking part in one of the Trust's events should be aware that there may be uneven ground, steps and stiles to negotiate at most venues. Participants are advised to wear stout shoes and bring waterproof clothing. If in any doubt as to whether to join a walk, please contact the leader or branch secretary.

‘The Forensic Mammal Detective’ by Rob Strachan.

SEPTEMBER

NOVEMBER

Thursday 31st October AYMESTREY BRANCH indoor meeting

Wednesday 4th September

Wednesday 6th November

WEOBLEY BRANCH indoor meeting

WEOBLEY BRANCH indoor meeting

‘Badgers and T.B, A farmer’s view’ by Tony Norman.

‘The conservation and management of water voles’ by Ian Lindsey

Tuesday 24th September

Thursday 7th November

KINGTON BRANCH indoor meeting

ROSS-ON-WYE BRANCH indoor meeting

‘Stiperstones’ by Simon Cooter, Senior Reserve Manager, Natural England

BRANCH AGM, followed by ‘Ponds and Pond life’ by Nigel Hand, Project officer, Pond Project.

Thursday 26th September AYMESTREY BRANCH indoor meeting

Tuesday 26th November

‘Sex and the Single Pearl’ by Mike Kelly.

KINGTON BRANCH indoor meeting

OCTOBER

Branch AGM followed by ’Pine Martens and Horseshoe Bats’ by Natalie Buttriss, Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Wednesday 2nd October

Thursday 28th November

WEOBLEY BRANCH indoor meeting

AYMESTREY BRANCH indoor meeting

‘Botanical tour of Herefordshire’ by Peter Garner.

‘Landscape and Life Around Aymestrey - a journey back through time’ by Prof. Michael Rosenbaum

Thursday 3rd October ROSS-ON-WYE BRANCH indoor meeting

‘Wildlife in Costa Rica’ by Roger Beck.

DECEMBER

Saturday 12th October Herefordshire Nature Trust AGM, Hopelands, Weobley Village Hall, starts 2.30pm, doors open 2.00pm. Followed by a talk on Hedgehogs by Dr Pat Morris at 4pm (see page 14 for further details).

Wednesday 4th December

Herefordshire Nature Trust

WEOBLEY BRANCH indoor meeting

‘River Arrow Project’ by Mike Williams. Thursday 5th December

Orchard management training programme A series of 10 training days on all aspects of orchard management. 3rd September: Introduction to all things orchardy! Covering history of orchards; rootstocks; grafting; cultivars; identification principles; tree planting; pruning principles; sources of information. Location: Lower House Farm. 17th September: Advanced pruning principles and practical espalier and cordon pruning. Location: Colwall. 1st October: Rescue pruning, some practical. Location: Colwall 15th October: Harvesting: different methods, storage and ripening, practical day. Location: Lower House Farm. 5th November: Orchard design and tree planting, some practical. Location: Colwall. 19th November: Formative pruning of young trees, practical day. Location: Colwall. 3rd December: Maintenance and rejuvenation pruning of older trees, including mistletoe, practical day. Location: Colwall. 7th January 2014: Pruning: tree forms etc, practical day. Location: Tidnor Wood Orchard. 21st January: All about Perry Pears, some practical. Location: Davies Meadow Nature Reserve. 4th February: Introduction to stone fruit eg plums, cherries. Location: Colwall. _________________________________ Details: All days will run from 10.00am – 4.00pm. Bring packed lunch and drink. Cost: £25 per day members, £30 per day non-members. 10% discount if booking all 10 days. To book: Please contact Julia Morton orchards@herefordshirewt.co.uk or tel: 01432 356872, . All the topics above will be covered in the programme but the location may change, you will be notified in advance of any changes to the programme.

ROSS- ON-WYE BRANCH indoor meeting

‘Natural Wonders of the Malvern Hills’ by Peter Garner.

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 15


Diary of Events

Branch Details

Unless stated otherwise, meetings are all day field meetings. Please bring your own food and drink, and wear suitable footwear and clothing. For more information visit: http://ralph.cs.cf.ac.uk/HBS.

Branch meetings are open to all.

C HARRIS

Herefordshire Botanical Society: Summer Programme 2013

Secretary. Mary Godwin, 01547 540443. Indoor meetings held at Aymestrey Village Hall at 7.30pm on A4110, first building on right (from south). Grid ref SO 425649. Donations towards expenses please, £1 members, £1.50 non- members.

If weather inclement phone leader 8.459.00am on the day to confirm meeting is taking place.

Thursday September 19th Hay Bluff: Leader Judith Oakley tel 01989 567395 Meet 11am at SO 239 373 – designated parking area near stone circle (map OL Brecon Beacons Eastern). From Hay-on-Wye take minor road signed Hay Bluff. From parking area we will take a leisurely walk down through spectacular scenery using Offa’s Dyke path most of the way to Hen Allt Common, SO 235 400 – about 3km. Visit is timed to see display of Cochicum autumnale. From there we will retrace our steps back up to the cars. Walking boots essential.

_______________________________

BROMYARD Programme Secretary. Dr. David Boddington, 01885 482495. Indoor meetings held at Methodist Hall, New Road, Bromyard, HR7 4AJ at 7.30pm. Donations towards expenses please, £1. _______________________________

KINGTON

Thursday October 10th Rushall fungus foray and workshop. Leader Roy Mantle, Host Jean Wynne-Jones. Meet 10.30am at SO 641 350 Gatchapen cottage, Rushall. Coffee, then a foray nearby, returning for lunch. Packed lunches or Jean’s cooking. Come or go at any time. Bring specimens (with host details if known), photos, books etc. Please advise J W-J a few days before if you think you will probably come. 01531 660670 email jwynnejones@yahoo.co.uk.

The History of Lower House Farm and its surrounding land By Anthea Brian and Beryl Harding

Supporters Our thanks go to following organisations for supporting our work: • Marches Housing Association • Natural England • Herefordshire Council

The fascinating story of one of Hereford’s oldest houses, from 1614 to present day. Available from Herefordshire Nature Trust, Lower House Farm.Price £5.00. Tel: 01432 356872

AYMESTREY

• Heritage Lottery Fund • Sure Start • The Cornus Trust • Severn Waste Services

Secretary. Sarah Cadwallader, 01544 230491. Indoor meetings held in Kington Primary School, HR5 3AL at 7.30pm. Donations towards expenses are invited. _______________________________

ROSS-ON-WYE Secretary - vacant. All enquiries to Roger Beck, 01989 763114. Indoor meetings held in Christchurch Hall, Edde Cross Street, Ross-on-Wye. HR9 7BZ at 7.30pm. Donations towards expenses please, £1.50 members, £2.50 non-members. _______________________________

WEOBLEY Secretary. Stella Hurdidge, 01544 318819. Indoor meetings held in Hopelands Village Hall, WR4 8SN at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated. Donations towards expenses please, £2.50. _______________________________

• Leader • Four Winds Trust

Other contact numbers

• Big Lottery (Local Food and

HNT Reserves Volunteers For further details contact 01432 356872. Borders Conservation Volunteers meet on first Friday of the month. Hereford Conservation Volunteers meet on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Ross-on-Wye Conservation Volunteers meet every 3rd Sunday in the month.

16 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Reaching Communities)

Corporate supporters • Healing Herbs

Corporate sponsors

Herefordshire Action for Mammals Contact Felicity Burge 01432 830482. Herefordshire Amphibian & Reptile Team Contact Phyl King 01684 541215. Herefordshire Ornithological Club Contact Keith Mason 01432 273167.

• Vine House Farm • Severn Waste • Weston’s Cider

Herefordshire Fungus Group Contact Mike Stroud mikestroud1@btinternet.com.

Herefordshire Nature Trust


UK News

See 92 Living Landsinctearapcetivse Amazing nline panoramas o now! Page 21

The skylarks who came back p24

Landfill site to wildlife haven – an amazing transformation

p28 Volunteering outdoors

p22 Responsible seafood?

p32 Tony Juniper

New research shows it’s good for you

The fishermen showing the way

What nature does for us

Herefordshire Nature Trust

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 17


UK News

Scotland proposes 33 marine protected areas Last year England and offshore Wales got a proposed MPA network. Now it’s Scotland’s turn

T

he Scottish Government has begun identifying a network of reserves to safeguard the country’s unique marine wildlife. The proposed network is based on advice from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. It includes 33 defined Marine Protected Areas (MPAs – see map below) to protect Scotland’s marine

species, habitats and undersea geology from destructive activities. The boundaries of four further MPAs to protect highly mobile species such as the basking shark, minke whale, white-beaked dolphin and Risso’s dolphin are still being assessed. The proposed network is a result of the 2010 Marine (Scotland) Act, which came about after a long campaign by the

Scottish Wildlife Trust and others. A public consultation on all the proposed sites is due to run for 16 weeks from early July. But the establishment of the MPAs as working reserves is far from certain. Last year 127 MPAs were proposed around England and Welsh offshore waters. Only 31 have been identified for possible designation this year.  More on wtru.st/ScottishMPAs

WILD WONDERS OF EUROPE

The proposed MPAs cover roughly the same area as Scotland. Red boundaries (for highly mobile species) will be finalised in 2014

MARINE SCOTLAND INTERACTIVE. CONTAINS ORDNANCE SURVEY DATA. CROWN COPYRIGHT AND DATABASE RIGHT 2013

AROUND THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS ALDERNEY

AVON WT

BCN WT

BBOWT

B’HAM & BC

CORNWALL

A new webcam project, Living Islands: Live, is enabling primary school children across Alderney and SE England to watch life inside a breeding puffin colony. wtru.st/ livingislandslive

Thanks to the Trout and About project, children have been watching trout eggs develop in the classroom. After caring for the young fish the children released them into Chew Valley Lake. wtru.st/troutnabout

A Trust member has discovered a species of lichen new to Bedfordshire. Returning lichens can indicate improving air quality, as many are highly sensitive to sulphur dioxide pollution. wtru.st/bedslichen

The Trust has begun a five-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund which will help community groups and residents in West Berkshire to protect their local wild areas. wtru.st/ berkslandscape

The Trust is challenging proposals by the City Council to develop green belt land in Birmingham. The Council says 80,000 new homes will be needed in the city by 2031. wtru.st/ birmplanning

The Trust and South West Water are collaborating to work with farmers to deliver cleaner drinking water. The Wild Penwith project provides advice on good soil and water management. wtru.st/WildPenwith

18 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Herefordshire Nature Trust


UK News UK-wLatest i and de new wild issues: s lif org/ etrusts. news

Protection on the way? A basking shark cruises through a proposed MPA just off the Isle of Mull

The value of nature Just like a good doctor, an intelligent society should try to identify root causes rather than simply treat symptoms. And the root cause of numerous societal and economic problems is the decline in wildlife and in people’s access to it. To reverse this trend, The Wildlife Trusts are showing that we can both revive our natural environment and re-connect people to it. Thurrock Thameside, a new nature park created by Essex Wildlife Trust (p8) is a case in point. Tees Valley Wildlife Trust (p12) is measuring the benefits of such engagement for people’s lives. Many species were only able to re-colonise the Essex site because the places around it had enjoyed European protection. This makes it clear that any further erosion of our depleted natural capital must be avoided at all costs. And this will only happen if decision-makers and people everywhere put a higher value on nature. That includes those deciding on what should be taught in schools. The next generation will need an excellent understanding of nature’s worth and complexity if it is to lead nature’s recovery, and create a brighter future for society and its economy. Opening Thurrock Thameside Nature Park Sir David Attenborough brought tears to the eyes of local people as he heralded the “miracle” of the site’s transformation from vast landfill site to 800 acre wildlife haven and education centre. He said it could be “a turning point”. We are certainly gathering momentum for such change – but only because you value nature, and because you are expressing this by supporting your Trust.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts

DORSET WT

GLOS WT

GWENT WT

HANTS WT

The county’s largest seafood wholesaler now has a labelling scheme to support the Trust’s Great Dorset Seafood campaign, showing provenance and traceability. wtru.st/ DorsetSamways

Stroud Wildlife Watch Group has been named 2012’s ‘Watch Group of the Year’. The children’s activities included wassailing, fossil hunting and fundraising for their local wildlife hospital. wtru.st/StroudWatch

The Trust welcomed a Welsh Government announcement that the planned M4 extension across the Gwent Levels needs more consultation. The Trust is campaigning against the development. wtru.st/GwentRoad

The Trust, Bristol Zoo and the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation are captive-rearing white-clawed crayfish. Offspring will be released in June 2014. wtru.st/ HantsCrayfish

Herefordshire Nature Trust

There are 47 Wildlife Trusts. With more than 800,000 members, we are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving all the UK’s habitats and species. Contact us on enquiry@wildlifetrusts.org or 01636 677711. To join your Wildlife Trust, visit wildlifetrusts.org/joinus Natural World, The Kiln, Waterside, Mather Road, Newark, Notts NG24 1WT. Editor Rupert Paul Communications manager Adam Cormack. Layout editor Phil Long Cover: skylark, one of the first species to thrive at Thurrock Nature Park twitter @wildlifetrusts facebook.com/wildlifetrusts

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 19


For the bupdates o wild adger cu n lifetr ll: org/ usts. news

UK News

Trusts call for tighter control on marine pollution Seabird deaths caused by chemicals at sea

MIKE MCFARLANE

T

EMMA BRADSHAW

he Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and RSPCA have asked the International Maritime Organisation to review the classification of a hazardous chemical after two pollution incidents resulted in more than 4000 dead and dying seabirds being washed up along the coast of southwest England. The birds, including razorbills, puffins, gannets and guillemots, were coated in a sticky substance which interferes with plumage, preventing diving and feeding. The substance was identified as polyisobutene (PIB), a chemical used in the manufacture of lubricants, chewing gum and other products. Under certain circumstances it is legal for ships to discharge PIB into the sea when washing out their tanks. “Dead and dying seabirds may be the most visible victims of our mismanagement. But impacts on other parts of marine life support systems may be just as widespread, and more serious,” said Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts. “Firm controls must be implemented to minimise the risk of future disasters.” This guillemot survived. But rescuers are concerned that the visible deaths are only the tip of the iceberg

A wood once owned by the author is now a nature reserve

Laurie Lee wood saved

MARC SMITH/DORSET WT

A landscape that inspired Laurie Lee’s book Cider with Rosie has been safeguarded for future generations. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust bought the ancient woodland (which was once owned by the author and adjoins the Trust’s existing Swift’s Hill reserve) after almost 1,000 people contributed to a local appeal. “We knew that this was a special place and that there would be amazing support to secure it from our members. But we have been truly overwhelmed. It’s great to know that in the middle of a recession people still value this county’s stunning countryside,” said Chief Executive, Roger Mortlock. To donate to other appeals to save places: wildlifetrusts.org.uk/appeals

AROUND THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS HEREFORD NT

LONDON WT

NORFOLK WT

SCILLY WT

SCOTTISH WT

SHEFFIELD WT

In partnership with Herefordshire Mind, the Trust’s Orchard Origins project is offering training to private orchard owners. The aim is to halt the decline of this valuable habitat. wtru.st/ OrchardOrigins

The University of Roehampton has entered into a partnership with the Trust, becoming the first to join its campus (54 acres including lakes, parkland and woodland) to a Living Landscape in London. wtru.st/BevBrook

A £100,000 donation from Geoffrey Watling Charity has helped the Trust’s Cley Marshes appeal to the half way point of £500,000. A new education centre at the reserve is also planned. wtru.st/CleyHalfway

The Trust has begun a 25 year partnership project to secure the future for internationally important seabird populations. Funders include HLF and the the EU LIFE programme. wtru.st/IoSSeabirds

Calling all business and sustainability leaders: the Trust is organising the first World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh in November, with a host of international partners. wtru.st/NatCapital

George and Mildred, Yorkshire’s first urban pair of breeding peregrines, are raising chicks for the second year running. A new webcam, installed last winter, has been capturing their continued success. wtru.st/ShefFalcons

20 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Herefordshire Nature Trust


UK News Living Landscapes on your phone and PC

Alderney WT’s The Odeon, a WW2 bunker now home to nesting swallows. You can spin 360 degrees on this spot, and explore different habitats

UK/EU news State of nature report The Wildlife Trusts have joined other nature charities to launch the UK’s first assessment of the health of our wildlife. The State of Nature creates a benchmark by assessing the current status of species in eight habitats. It reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More on wtru.st/stateofnature

Thanks to an astonishing one-man project, you can now visit 92 of The Wildlife Trusts’ Living Landscape schemes online – and explore them as 360-degree interactive panoramas. And the man who took the pictures – all 12,000 of them – visited every Living Landscape on a folding bicycle, towing his camera and camping gear on a trailer. In fact, Mike McFarlane cycled 5,903 miles to capture the sights and sounds of landscape-scale conservation. Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape, said: “We have been focusing our efforts on landscapescale conservation schemes in partnership with others for several years. Mike’s panoramic views and virtual tours will help people to visualise the places where we are working and the scale and scope of Living Landscape schemes.” Mike’s trip was funded by Tubney Charitable Trust and Aggregate Industries. Explore the panoramas at wildlifetrusts.org/360

Slightly greener farming The EU’s much criticised Common Agricultural Policy (Summer 2012 issue) has been reformed – but not by much. The vote by MEPs was not the radical reform of CAP we wanted, but there is hope that some ‘greening’ will be achieved.

Care for nature dropped from school curriculum function in harmony with the natural environment, on which it ultimately depends. President of The Wildlife Trusts, Simon King OBE, called for education secretary, Michael Gove, to increase environmental education in schools. “A younger generation equipped to understand and tackle the massive environmental problems we have left them is our only hope for the future,” he said. The Wildlife Trusts are part of Wild Network which aims to reconnect children with nature. More at projectwildthing.com

Bees and pesticides An EU ban on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides will start on 1 December after the European Food Safety Authority identified a ‘high acute risk’ to honeybees. Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts said: “We need more action to reverse the decline in bees andother vital pollinators.”

DAVID CHAPMAN

DAN RANSOM/CORNWALL WT

The Wildlife Trusts have asked the Government to reverse proposed changes to the English national curriculum which could see children not being taught about protecting the natural environment. The current draft quietly drops any reference to English school children being taught ‘to care for the environment’ or ‘ways in which living things and the environment need protection’. The Wildlife Trusts believe this would hinder young people learning about their dependence on nature. It could also affect society’s future ability to

Coronation Meadows In a project championed by Prince Charles to celebrate 60 years since the Queen’s Coronation, 60 flower-rich donor meadows across the UK will provide seed to restore other nearby meadows. See coronationmeadows.org.uk

More than 162,000 pupils from 4,400 schools in England visited Wildlife Trust reserves last year

Buff tailed bumblebee: one of farming’s hidden helpers

SHROPS WT

SOMERSET WT

S & W WALES

ULSTER

WORCS WT

YORKS WT

The Trust has started an e-petition calling on the Government to strengthen hedgerow protection. A farmer had just withdrawn an application to remove seven miles of hedge near Chirbury. wtru.st/ HedgePetition

Earlier this year, the Trust launched an appeal to open up more access to Catcott nature reserve. The 30 acres of former peatdiggings have been restored to wetland habitat. wtru.st/Catcott

The Trust has begun a new project to identify the best way to monitor harvest mouse populations at Parc Slip reserve. Live trapping, nest searching and motion camera techniques will be compared. wtru.st/ParcSlipMice

Work is underway to tackle non-native floating pennywort at Bangor’s Balloo Woodland reserve. The soon-to-be-banned aquatic plant quickly forms dense mats and chokes waterways. wtru.st/ BallooWeeds

SITA has awarded more than £118,000 to the Trust’s Restore Worcestershire’s Grasslands project, which aims to reverse the decline of 115ha of formerly wildlife-rich grassland at 21 Local Wildlife Sites. wtru.st/WorcsGrass

Opened its new Living Seas Centre at Flamborough Head, with displays on marine life, art activities and a ‘Bubble booth’ to get visitors thinking about marine conservation. wtru.st/YorksLSC

Herefordshire Nature Trust

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 21


Living Seas

“Do things right and you can fish forever” For lobster potter John White and his crew, caring for the marine environment is part of the job

ALL IMAGES BY GEORGE STOYLE

M

y vessel, Crazy Cat, is in a pot fishery for crabs and lobsters off Holderness. We catch bass too but most of our income is from shellfish. Crazy Cat is quite apt for some of the conditions we have to go to sea in to earn a wage. My whole ethos is to run the boat as sustainably as possible. If you want to harvest food for generations to come you’ve got to do it in the right way. A lot of the attitude to fisheries is boom and bust. People go in, make a lot of money, basically eradicate the fishery and move onto the next thing. But you just can’t keep doing that. It’s not right.

22 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

All our pots are fitted with escape gaps that allow immature shellfish to vacate the pot while it’s still on the seabed. It reduces mortality from larger lobsters preying on smaller ones, and prevents a dangerous journey back to cover on the sea bed when they’re thrown back. The pots also have a ‘soft bottom’ plastic sheet which prevents lobsters being damaged or killed in stormy weather. We’ve just had some very severe easterly winds and the pots on other boats which weren’t fitted with escape gaps and plastic sheets had lost a lot of lobsters. We lost three.

We have a scheme called v-notching, which is cutting a small v in the tail of egg-bearing lobsters. We could quite legally land them, but v-notching protects your breeding animals for at least three years while the notch grows out. It’s a criminal offence to bring ashore and sell a lobster with a v-notch in it. We notch well in excess of 1000 animals a year. Unfortunately we’re one of a very few vessels that do this because we are chucking money back into the sea. It probably costs me £810,000 a year but we see it as our future; a way of getting a truly sustainable fishery. We’re now working with the

Herefordshire Nature Trust


Living Seas North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to get local legislation to ensure every pot fisherman in this area uses escape gaps, and v-notches eggbearing females. I’ve been involved in fisheries for 40 years and I’ve seen the boom and bust, the terrible waste in the white fish industry. I’ve been aboard trawlers where we’ve hauled up huge amounts of immature fish to die on the surface or be shovelled back over the side. But if we do things right we can make these fisheries last forever and a day. By adjusting the way we fish, by changing our attitude towards the species we’re preying on, we can become far more sustainable. The big concern fishermen always have is losing a certain amount of saleable material. We know we lose 1012% of legal-sized lobsters through our escape gaps. But we also allow millions of immature lobsters to escape. So I just see the small loss as a massive benefit. I’ve been seen as a bit of a crazy eccentric, daft in the head. But a large number of fishermen are seeing changes in stock densities, and realising they have to change their ways. If I could do anything for this planet it would be to leave the fishery in a better state than

This kind of fishing can work in a marine reserve

V-notching egg-bearing females makes them illegal to land for three years

when I found it. We do produce fantastic quality food and if we do it right we can produce it forever. In the next two months we’ll have new legislation in this area that’ll begin to force people to do what we’re doing. Some people aren’t happy about it – but they’re worried about nothing, really. There’s a small loss of saleable lobsters from the pots but they’re not going to go anywhere, and they survive to grow and breed. You’ll catch them another day.  See a photo story of a day’s fishing on the Crazy Cat at northseawildlife. org.uk/fisheries

Since the Marine Act was passed in 2009, The Wildlife Trusts have been pressing the Government to set up a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) where wildlife can be safe from the effects of destructive activities. One objection to a network of reserves is that it will prevent economic progress. John White’s stewardship proves the complete opposite. His environmentally responsible shell fishery operates inside the Holderness Inshore candidate MCZ, and would continue to do so if the area was designated. It’s a perfect example of how a Marine Conservation Zone can work to create sustainable local economies. John is working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to promote this idea in schools, at public meetings, and through TV, radio and online. An MCZ is not a line on a map. It’s a series of collaborations between people with a real sense of stewardship, far into the future. And the more it happens, the better off our seas will be. Kirsten Smith Living Seas Manager Yorkshire Wildlife Trust The sea bed in the Holderness fishery is rich in wildlife

 For more on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s fisheries work, contact Kat Sanders, Fisheries and Wildlife Officer: kat.sanders@ywt.org.uk

John’s crew Christian Thorpe and (with pot) Nathan Phillips aboard the Crazy Cat

Herefordshire Nature Trust

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 23


Living Landscapes

Skylark ascending Seven years ago this place was a landfill site. Today, Thurrock Thameside Nature Park is Essex Wildlife Trust’s biggest project. Gemma Hall went to find out about the transformation flits from one bush to another, singing from the highest branches while bees forage for nectar and red admiral butterflies dance about the blackthorn flowerheads. Apart from the warbler’s notes, the lapping water, and the song of skylarks high above there are no other sounds. No distant hum of traffic, no clanking of industrial machinery, no sirens. Visually, there’s no escaping the setting, though. A single glance takes in wind turbines, a scattering of old factories, the

Landfill site to wildlife haven Thirty years ago the roar and clatter of lorries, diggers and cranes, and the cries of thousands of gulls drowned out the skylark’s song, but that was before one of the largest landfill sites in

by Lisa Smart, Reserves Manager, Essex WT

SKYLARK The site has matured to provide very good numbers of invertebrates, essential for a breeding skylark population. Disturbance from people and dogs is minimal.

24 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

aforementioned oil refinery and one of the biggest shipping ports in the world. But they can’t mask the summer meadow scene conjured by the droning of the bees and trilling of the skylarks.

WATER VOLE It’s likely the voles expanded from the Trust’s nearby Stanford Warren reserve. The lakes at Thurrock have developed reedbed, willow and good bankside features.

ALAN WILLIAMS

PAUL HOBSON

Thurrock wildlife

ALAN WILLIAMS

MATTHEW ROBERTS

F

ive redshanks, their backs to an old oil refinery on the banks of the Thames, poke the silky brown riverbed for food, oblivious to the passing ships and alarm calls of oystercatchers. They work their way up shore with the incoming tide until the glistening mud is fully submerged and the small motor boats moored in the creek bob on the rippling water. Watched from a bird hide overlooking the saltmarsh, a whitethroat

AVOCET Numbers of this distinctive wader are on the increase nationally, and the Park’s extensive mudflats are an ideal place for them to find aquatic insects, crustaceans and worms.

Herefordshire Nature Trust


Living Landscapes Western Europe became a nature reserve. “It was just a landfill back then,” recall local residents, Carol and Colin Munro, who volunteer in the visitor centre and out on the reserve. In the 1950s, Carol’s father used to work on the Thames pulling barges loaded with waste from the outskirts of London to the landfill site. The rubbish filled up holes in the ground left by gravel extraction for construction projects. Colin once spent a memorable morning helping his fatherin-law tow the barges in a tug boat. “It took six hours to travel 25 miles with eight barges full of rubbish,” he remembers. “The bitter wind was tearing the tops off the waves and hitting me like ice. We tied the barges up at the wharf and then these bucket grabs lowered from cranes picked up the

rubbish and dropped it onto waiting lorries.” By the time the dumping of London’s waste ceased a few decades ago, the land was 20m high with rubbish, albeit covered with grass. In 2006, Essex Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the land owners, Cory Environmental Ltd, began in earnest to transform this mountain of waste into a healthy environment for wildlife – and recreation site for people. “It was a tremendous opportunity from a conservation point of view,” says John Hall, the Chief Executive of Essex WT. “We’ve recreated habitats which are typical of the area including dry, elevated grasslands and chalky meadows. Locals are amazed when they come here because they’ve had a landfill site at their back door for as long as they can remember”. Carol agrees: “It’s hard to

remember it now as a landfill site,” she says. “I can lose myself here. It’s so quiet you feel like you’re out in the country.” To date, 120 acres of grassland habitat have been restored. The lengthy process involves sealing the landfill with a membrane and then covering it with a metre-thick ‘cap’ of earth. Over time, the land will slowly reduce in height as the rubbish below compresses. Sourcing enough soil to cover the site is not straightforward, however. It must come from large-scale underground construction sites such as tunnels. It’s then loaded onto boats and transported down the Thames in the same way as the rubbish was delivered in the 20th century. Methane (a product of decomposing organic waste) is extracted from below the membrane and fed into power stations. When

PAUL HOBSON

COLIN VARNDELL

JACK PERKS

The award-winning visitor centre pulls in the families. The wildlife and landscape do the rest

SLOW WORM The oldest areas on the site are now a mosaic of grassland and small scrub. This has allowed slow worms to move in and start breeding as conditions become optimal.

Herefordshire Nature Trust

LITTLE OWL Much of the site remains undisturbed by people, and has plenty of the small mammals and insects which this diminutive owl needs to flourish and breed.

BROWN HARE Moved in from neighbouring farmland as the site matured. Good security at the site has prevented illegal hare coursing, allowing numbers to build up substantially.

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 25




Living Landscapes Short-eared owls are the most spectacular Thurrock arrivals so far

complete in seven or eight years’ time, the reserve will encompass 845 acres of grasslands, woods and lakes and there will be 12 miles of paths for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to enjoy.

Giving the land back to nature and people

THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS

Owls, skylarks, hares, orchids, adders and invertebrates such as the shrill carder bee are well established on the open grasslands, and a new lake is attracting dragonflies, newts, warblers and wildfowl. Trees cannot be planted in case their roots break the membrane below, but established woodland frames the western edge of the site where, on spring evenings, nightingales sing. Even though only a seventh of the nature park is currently open, Thurrock Thameside is now one of Essex WT’s most visited nature reserves. “We’re giving people access to the Thames again,” says Steve Beary, Sales Manager at Essex Wildlife Trust. Dog walkers, birdwatchers, families out for a cycle ride and community groups all enjoy the nature park. Some are attracted by the wildlife, others come to get some

More amazing recoveries

DAMIEN HUGHES, LANCS WT, SHEFFIELD WT

Gwaith Powdwr today and (inset) in the 1980s before restoration

The Flashes owe their existence to Wigan’s coal miners

Gwaith Powdwr North Wales WT

Wigan Flashes Lancs WT

The name means ‘powder works’, and this fascinatingly diverse reserve was donated to the Trust in 1998 after 130 years of manufacturing gun cotton, TNT, and nitroglycerine. The three-year decontamination process removed most of the buildings, and today the three valleys provide grassland, ponds, woodland, upland, wetland – not to mention outstanding views. Rare lesser horseshoe bats use the old bomb shelters, and

The Flashes (or lakes) are a legacy of the town’s industrial past and formed as a result of mining subsidence. Some were then partially filled with colliery waste from the nearby Westwood Power Station, which closed in 1989. Natural colonisation and large-scale reclamation works have helped turn the area into the amenity it is today. Besides the large areas of open water there’s reedbed, fen, rough grassland, wet woodland and scrub. More than

26 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

the site is also good for reptiles and amphibians. Birds include linnet, tree pipit, stonechat, nightjar, oystercatcher, redshank and osprey. There are otters too.  More on wtru.st/GPowdwr

Herefordshire Nature Trust


Living Landscapes Securing the reserve in a changing landscape For the next 90-odd years, the nature park is safely under the guardianship of Essex Wildlife Trust, says John, but there are potential threats, this being a heavily populated corner of southeast England with many development projects nearby. “Boris Johnson is keen to build an airport in the area which would damage the whole of the Thames Estuary, not just our nature park.” Back at the visitor centre, Steve is scanning the Thames with his binoculars. He seems fixated on two huge container ships manoeuvring into the port beyond the mud flats and saltmarshes, but then it becomes apparent that he’s focusing on something rather more unexpected. “Porpoises,” he utters casually. “There’s a pod of them that often feed in the

channel over there.” He points to an area of the river half a mile away. “You’d never believe it, would you?” a visitor remarks. No you wouldn’t, but then who would have thought a 20m high landfill site could be transformed into a nature park in under a decade?

CHRIS TAYLOR

exercise, but nearly all of them enjoy a cup of tea in the new visitor centre overlooking the Thames Estuary. The cylindrical tower appears to be set into the hill, and its external wooden frame, which will weather over time to a silvery hue, fits the post-industrial setting. A spiral walkway leads to the roof where visitors can see down the river to Southend. Children love running up onto the roof of course, but the building has sparked interests that Essex WT weren’t expecting. The centre is now well known to local astronomy and shipping enthusiasts, among others. “People visit for remarkable reasons,” says Colin. “I met a couple who said they had come to see the sky. I’d never thought of that one! We do get the most incredible skies.” Sir David Attenborough opened the Nature Park in May. “Where I live in west London I haven’t heard a cuckoo in years,” he said. “There are cuckoos here, and skylarks – what a joy. What an achievement the Essex Wildlife Trust has brought about.” You can watch him give his opening speech at wildlifetrusts.org/ Thurrock

Sir David Attenborough and Essex Wildlife Trust CEO John Hall at Thurrock Thameside. Sir David opened the Nature Park on 11 May

I haven’t heard a cuckoo in London in years. There are cuckoos here – what a joy! SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

For more examples from around the UK: wtru.st/naturesback The official opening in 2009, and (inset) the site in 2006

Centenary Riverside Sheffield WT 200 species of bird, 15 species of dragonfly and six species of orchid have been recorded here. The reserve is part of a larger network of wetland habitats running for five and a half miles along a branch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. The Flashes are known for their resident and overwintering waterfowl such as bittern, grey heron, tufted duck, coot, pochard, goldeneye, gadwall and great crested grebe.  See Wigan Flashes on wtru.st/WigFlashes

Herefordshire Nature Trust

Once a steel works in the middle of Rotherham, Centenary Riverside is now transformed into a ten acre urban wetland with trees, grassland and wildflowers. Restoration began in 2009 with a plan to make the site the centrepiece of a £14m flood alleviation scheme. Now the work is finished, complete with industrial sculptures and a spectacular curving bridge, the reserve has opened up a stretch of riverside which had

been closed to the public for around 150 years. As for the wildlife, it’s still early days. But it’s hoped that otters will eventually re-establish.  See restoration pics on wildsheffield.com

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 27


People & Wildlife

Proof at last: this is In fact, volunteering on a nature reserve turns out to be amazingly good for you, according to new

TIM KEETON

T

he sound of cheerful banter blows across Coatham Marsh on Teesside as a group of volunteers digs out turf and piles it against a structure they’ve spent three weeks completing. Soon they’ll be finished and, with luck, sand martins and bats will move in. These are no ordinary volunteers. They’re the central players in a study by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust that proves the mental health benefits of volunteering outdoors. It could have a big impact on funding across The Wildlife Trusts.

Watching the group – a mix of retired gents, students and those with mental health issues – working up a sweat in the bright spring sunshine, it’s easy to see how this would make anyone feel better. Besides the outdoor physical activity, there’s the satisfaction of completing a project and the feeling of well-being that comes from giving your time to something worthwhile. The tricky part, according to Tees Valley Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Jeremy Garside, has been quantifying just how much better people feel.

“Initially the programme was developed with support from the Big Lottery Fund. But when we applied to other charitable trusts to extend the work they asked questions we couldn’t answer. Is it better to get more people through for shorter periods? Or to work with the same people for five years? We didn’t know.” Jeremy got Jenny Hagan involved. She’s on her way to a PhD in volunteer management, and an expert in research.And so, using three scales to assess mental well-being, and structured interviews with participants, carers and

Volunteers build a sand martin nest bank at Coatham Marsh. The research suggests such activity is a better way to improve mental health than traditional interventions

28 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

Herefordshire Nature Trust


People & Wildlife

good for you research by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. John Westlake reports health professionals, Jenny set about measuring the benefits of volunteering for the Wildlife Trust – both for those with and without mental health issues. The results were remarkable. Participants’ scores for their feelings of usefulness, relaxation and independence of thought were remarkably high and, in cases where participants were referred, their increase in confidence was clearly noted by carers. The participants themselves revealed other benefits: the feeling of comradeship with their fellow volunteers, and a level of self-

determination not possible on a ward. Back on Coatham Marsh these findings are backed up by the turf diggers. Kelvin Scase, who volunteers three days a week, says: “I’ve been doing it four or five years. I love it. My favourite job is petrol strimming, I’m good at that. But we do all sorts – planting trees, cutting wood. And I like animals – there are two swans nesting just over there.” Steven Etwell is the longest serving member: “I’ve been volunteering one day a week since 2000. I like the fresh air and the achievement. It feels I’m in a team.”

This is confirmed by one of the selfreferred volunteers: “I love it, absolutely love it. When we build things, Dan (van den Toorn, the Reserves Officer in charge on site who has coordinated volunteers on the project for five years) does the design but he doesn’t tell me to knock a nail in there or saw there; he just tells me the sort of thing he wants. It’s bloody great. There’s such a sense of achievement from building something like this. I go home at night absolutely pooped, thinking I’ve done a great job.”

What’s next? The research has made the link between volunteering in nature and improving mental health. The next stage is to measure before-andafter impact. Jenny Hagan explains: “We’re developing partnerships with local GPs to access more people in need through social prescription referrals. This could tackle the over-reliance on prescribing medication for depression, and allow further research. We’re also looking at measuring blood pressure and muscle stress, which are directly connected to mental health.”

Herefordshire Nature Trust

Jeremy Garside believes it makes an economic case to fund more volunteering programmes: “If we can make this work and find a way of sustaining mental health volunteering in Tees Valley, that’s something I want to help other Trusts replicate.” The research was funded by a Dame Mary Smieton Research Grant. Other funders are the Northern Rock Foundation, Department of Health and Big Lottery.  Read the research at teeswildlife.org/new/ volunteering

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 29


Great Days Out

Ten great places for

Exploring rockpools No summer is complete without getting to know a seaside rockpool. And the UK has tens of thousands to choose from

2

Polzeath

3

Kimmeridge Bay

4

West Runton Beach

Cornwall WT A wealth of invertebrate life clings to the rocks and hides amongst the crevices. The beach is part of a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area, and there are regular rockpool wildlife surveys and easy access rockpool rambles. More at cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? On the N coast, 6 miles N of Wadebridge. Grid: SW 937 788. Dorset WT The Trust’s Fine Foundation Marine Centre is open through the summer for interactive displays, aquaria and rockpool rambles. You can also hire Seashore Explorer backpacks. More on dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? A351 Wareham to Corfe Castle. R to Creech, R to Kimmeridge. Grid: SY 909789. Norfolk WT The Trust runs rockpool rummaging events on the beach throughout the summer. Shore crabs, beadlet anemones and squat lobsters are commonly encountered species. More at norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? Off the A148 5 miles W of Cromer. X5 bus from Norwich. Grid: TG 183 432.

5

6

Cresswell Foreshore

7

Roome Bay

8

South Landing, Flamborough Headland

Northumberland WT A Trust nature reserve with a large, wave-cut platform. There are five species of crab, plus butterfish and shanny. The Trust holds rockpooling events here every Marine Week in August. More at nwt.org.uk Where is it? 1 mile N of Cresswell village. Grid: NZ 283 944. Scottish WT A south facing sandy cove in the beautiful fishing village of Crail with great rockpools to explore. The Trust’s nearby Fife Ness Muir and Kilminning Coast reserves are both great for coastal wildlife and migrant birds. More at scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? In East Neuk of Fife, 10min walk from Crail centre. Post code: KY10 3TT.

Yorkshire WT Stroll from the Trust’s Living Seas Centre to the beach. The white chalk boulders create a rock pooling paradise, with a kelp forest at low tide.There are Seashore Safaris for all ages and Shoresearch if you want to develop your ID skills. More at ywt.org.uk/living-seas-centre Where is it? From Bridlington, B1255 to Flamborough. Post code: YO15 1AE.

9

St Bees Beach

10

Seven Sisters

ALEX MUSTARD/2020VISION

Longis Bay

Alderney WT Longis Bay never seems to get crowded and offers safe bathing and a great variety of environments to explore. Trust-run events throughout the summer include kayaking and rockpool snorkelling (equipment provided). More on alderneywildlife.org Where is it? On the SE coast of the island. Accessed by main road E from St Annes.

DAVID CHAPMAN

1

Cumbria WT The northern end has rockpools beneath cliffs with England’s only breeding colony of black guillemots. The southern point has large honeycomb worm reefs. More on cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? 5 miles SW of Whitehaven. Grid: NX 960 118 (north), NX 969 107 (south).

Porth y Pwll

North Wales WT One of many bays offering fantastic rockpooling, Porth y Pwll has large, seaweedy pools with blue-rayed limpets, cushion stars and far more besides. More on northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? Head from Trearddur Bay along Lon Isallt towards Holyhead. Grid: SH 244 793.

Sussex WT Next to the ‘Beachy Head West’ recommended Marine Conservation Zone. The Trust runs rockpooling days, and marine wildlife surveys. Details at sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk Where is it? A mile’s walk from the car park near Seaford. Grid: TV 518 977.

FIND MORE SITES LIKE THESE AT WILDLIFETRUSTS.ORG/ROCKPOOLS 30 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

The other-worldly tentacles of a snakelocks anemone

Herefordshire Nature Trust


Great Days Out

7 6 9 8 5 4

2 3

10 1

Stranded jellyfish: lovely, but don’t touch!

Take a guide, such as the Field Studies Council’s Rocky Shore Name Trail (£3). A bucket and net are handy, plus non-slip footwear. And remember to put your charges back afterwards. Check with your Wildlife Trust for special events, especially in school holidays. You may need to prebook and/or pay a small fee

DAVID CHAPMAN

DAVID CHAPMAN

You can often tempt common blennies out with a morsel of food

DAVID CHAPMAN

DAVID CHAPMAN

Before you go

An exciting find: a broad-clawed porcelain crab

Herefordshire Nature Trust

Eggs of a Cornish sucker fish

July 27-August 11 is National Marine Week. For events near you, go to wildlifetrusts.org/ events

AUTUMN 2013 Wildside 31


Comment

So nature’s optional. Really? Our Chancellor has claimed that environmental protection should be sacrificed for growth. Tony Juniper thinks this view is a dangerous illusion. And he’s written a book to say why. idea that nature and economy are somehow alternatives, that one (nature) must be sacrificed for the other (growth) is to me one of the most dangerous misconceptions of modern times. And that, in a nutshell, is why I decided to write What has nature ever done for us? The truth is that 100 per cent of our economic wellbeing depends on nature. Natural diversity is a vast repository of design solutions conceived through billions of years of biological evolution. Ecosystems store carbon, soils recycle the nutrients that underpin farming, predators control pests, pollinating animals enable ecosystems and farms to function, wetlands purify water and help reduce flood risk while plants on land and in the sea help to make it rain and recycle oxygen. And the Earth’s lifesustaining systems are integrated,

F

or more than a century conservationists have sought to reconcile the demands of people with maintaining our diversity of wildlife, and there have been some notable successes. There are helpful laws to protect species, different kinds of air and water pollution have been reduced and the best areas for wildlife have been identified and at least partially protected. Despite the achievements the battle is far from won, however. Development pressure is intense, farming practices exclude wildlife from many agricultural landscapes while nutrient enrichment disrupts the ecology in many important systems. On top of this the remaining natural areas are fragmented, many lack effective management and climate changes will cause profound additional pressures. Part of the reason why our natural environment is still at threat is because mainstream opinion tends to see nature as a ‘nice to have’, an optional extra that we can afford in the good times, but not so much when economic growth is weak. Recent political statements highlighting the alleged need to cut environmental regulation so as to permit economic growth are cases in point. The

32 Wildside AUTUMN 2013

each year. The amenity value of inland wetlands added a further £1.3 billion. While the idea that protecting nature is somehow an alternative to good economics, or worse still a drag on ‘growth’, is patently daft, it seems to me that winning this argument once and for all is a vital job for conservationists. The good news is that now it is not just a few academics who appreciate this economic reality, but also some governments and some leading companies. Several conservation groups are also adapting their work to make it more obvious how looking after nature is good for people too. The work of The Wildlife Trusts, including the Living Landscapes and Living Seas programmes, is a case in point. By promoting nature, including large-scale habitat restoration, as a

The idea that ‘nature’ and ‘growth’ are somehow alternatives is to me a dangerous misconception working together to maintain the conditions for life. This incredible set of loops, systems, cycles and relationships is more than a series of ‘natural resources’. It is also a set of services, and they have fundamental economic value. Recently ecologists and economists have assigned some numbers. One study undertaken by Robert Costanza (the ecological economist) and his colleagues and published in 1997 estimated that nature was each year providing services with a financial value equivalent to at least double global GDP. Closer to home, the 2011 National Ecosystem Assessment looked at the state and value of the UK’s natural environment. This ground-breaking piece of work for example valued the carbon taken up by UK woodlands at about £690 million per year. The benefits derived from improved river water quality were found to be about £1.1 billion per annum. The value of coastal protection provided by wetlands was estimated to be about £1.5 billion

means to deliver social benefit, through for example reduced flood risk and improved human wellbeing, the narrative that underpins conservation action is beginning to shift. If we are going to hang on to what nature does for us, we need to shift our collective consciousness, to see nature for what it actually is: the source of every aspect of our welfare, including economically. If we did that, then it would be far easier to break out of the trap of seeing ecology and economy as conflicting choices. What has nature ever done for us? by Tony Juniper is published by Profile Books. Wildlife Trust members can get a signed copy for £9 (10% off RRP) plus free P&P. Just call 020 7841 6300 to order and quote ‘TWT offer’. Watch Tony discussing his book with Stephanie Hilborne (CEO of The Wildlife Trusts) and John Everitt (CEO of Notts Wildlife Trust) at wtru.st/doneforus

Herefordshire Nature Trust

Wildside (autumn 13)  
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