NEWS FLASH: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust sign long lease with Church Commissioners to create a floodplain meadow nature reserve at Bartonsham Meadows. Read on for the details…
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE
Words: Bill Laws
The signing of the 25-year lease between the Church Commissioners, owners of Bartonsham Meadows, and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust has been welcomed by Friends of Bartonsham Meadows (FoBM).
FoBM, which organised several community consultations and wildlife surveys at the site, had campaigned for the Meadows to be returned to a wild-life friendly, floodplain meadow since the catastrophic floods of 2020/2021.
FoBM’s Ruth Westoby: “We are campaigning for the restoration of the floodplain along with the traditional hedgerows and ponds which would mitigate the effects of the Wye flooding and significantly reduce the carbon footprint here.“
She added: “Our focus has been to put biodiversity at the forefront – to speak on behalf of endangered plantlife and animal life – and we are delighted to see tentative signs of improvement.” (Skylarks returned to the Meadows last year after a long absence.)
FoBM’s immediate brief has been fulfilled in securing the long-term future of this site and they will turn to supporting the Trust going forward. Fobm will also keep a watching brief on who benefits from the ‘environmental uplift’, which will be all the more significant in the light of the Meadows lying fallow and unmanaged over the last two years leading to an explosion of dock and thistle. “Our community surveys suggest that people would be unhappy if the benefits, accrued from the carbon capture, were not put to good use within the parish,” said Ruth.
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SAVE THE DATE - May Day celebrations Please come and celebrate this unprecedented success with us on May 1st Pop the date in your diary, probably a bit of tree planting and cider and savouries, maybe 2-4pm with a programme of events throughout the day on the Meadows. Working on that plan now! Can you help us? Set up, bake cakes, tidy up? Please email Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wild at heart and scruffy chances: the Fobm Vision Words: Anna Gundrey Images: Laura French-Jones; Gareth Dart Natural landscapes are scruffy places with tussocky grassland, sprawling scrub and broken trees. Dead wood lies where it lands amongst the leaf litter and fallen apples. Biodiversity thrives where there is a variety of different habitats and structures, and an abundance of different food sources and microclimates. The uniformity of traditionally managed gardens and conventional agriculture leaves no space for this. A tidy verge or a closely trimmed lawn has no seeds or nectar and no natural cover to hide in. The Meadows at the moment are a ‘mess’ with a rank sward of rotting docks and thistles. But look what that unkempt land has attracted – so many people have been excited to see a barn own quartering the fields this month. The tall vegetation has provided cover for voles and this in turn has brought the predators. This is so exciting, not just because barn owls are now very rare, but because it provides a ray of hope that if nature is given half a chance it will take it and return to our barren countryside. The current state of the Meadows is not ideal but it is at a sweet spot where it is still relatively open but provides some structure for ground dwelling animals to thrive. If left unmanaged it will get denser and ranker and less diverse and gradually succeed to scrub. This is where extensive agriculture is so important. The grazing of animals, and/or periodic mowing mimics the effect of the large herbivores of prehistory, making open spaces and disturbed ground which creates diverse habitat niches and allows less competitive plants a chance to set seed. Once the fields are returned to grassland and traditionally managed as floodplain meadows, they will provide a sustainable structurally diverse and species rich habitat in which nature can thrive. But it won’t be tidy – it will be wild and wonderful and we will be able to celebrate that we have made space for nature right in the heart of the City.
OTHER LAND MANAGEMENT
Dwrcymru Welsh Water updated us on February 24 2023 that the previously announced works are to be reduced. This from them:
“We wrote to you in November regarding the work which we were going to be carrying at both Eign and Rotherwas waste treatment works to remove a higher proportion of phosphorous from the treated water before returning it safely back to the river Wye. Since then, further investigations have been made and it was discovered that by improving the current dosing on at Eign treatment works, we could reduce the phosphorus level from our waste water treatment works whilst doing less intrusive work.
“Therefore, we’re currently finalising the details of the new plan and will be reducing the working area needed. We will write to you again once the working area and start date has been confirmed.”
SURVEYS Words: Bill Laws Birders and bird watchers are delighted by the news that The Meadows will be managed as a reserve. Recent count included: Black bird 11 Blue tit 3 Canada geese 3 Chiff chaff 6 Cormorant 1 Carrion Crow 10+ Dunnock 2 Goosander 5 Great tit 1 Great spotted woodpecker 1 Long tailed tit 5 Lesser black backed gull 4 Mallard 26 Magpie 6 Moorhen 2 Pheasant 1 Robin 5 Song thrush 2 Wren 14 Wood pigeon 35+
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY • April 23 2023 2pm, Litterpick along river behind treatment works • May 1 2023, Celebration of our new nature reserve! Details TBC • May 21 2023, Balsam bash • May 24-25 2023, Floodplain Meadows Partnership Conference:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INVALUABLE SUPPORT
That’s all from us this for now, watch out for updates on the May 1st Celebration… In the meantime, please continue to send us photos and news of the meadows.
Anna, Bill, Charlie, Dick, Gareth, Jen-May, Jeremy, Mo, Rhian, Ruth & Will