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Monday, December 10, 2007

Local news

For the last post on recent wildlife news I am reporting on three local activities which are wildlife related developments I have got involved in on a personal basis.

Firstly there is the 4 acre field owned by a group of local residents. This was briefly mentioned in a post on May 29th 2007 but otherwise has been neglected. Here is a summary report I prepared earlier for a management plan for the field and which gives some idea of the fields value.

"This field of unimproved grassland was purchased by a Syndicate of local residents on May 22nd 2005 to ensure that it remained undeveloped. It has been submitted for registration as a County Wildlife Site at the suggestion of SERC. It is hoped that an adjoining similar sized field to the north of the meadow, with a similar flora, can be linked in part at least so as to add to the ecological importance of both .This adjoining field known as the Rugby Field is currently being transferred to the ownership of the Curry Rivel Parish Council. The adjoining land to the south of the meadow is owned and farmed in a manner sympathetic to the aims of the Syndicate and incorporates wildlife friendly measures in its management."

To establish the value of the meadow a survey of the flora was carried out in two stages in Aug 2005 and May 2006. The survey results showed that: “The field and hedgerows contain 105 higher plant species, including two orchid species. The number of grass species is particularly striking, totalling 24.” And also that “the hedges are classified as species rich with 15 different woody species present indicating they are several hundred years old.”

No formal survey has been made so far of butterflies or moths but observations made by members of the Syndicate have resulted in claims of sightings for the following butterflies.



Coppers, Hairstreaks

& Blues




Clouded Yellow

Brown Hairstreak

Small Tortoiseshell

Marbled White



Green Hairstreak

Painted Lady


Large White

Common Blue


Meadow Brown

Small White

Red Admiral



Since that was written it has been confirmed by SERC that the field is now a registered County Wildlife Site which is very encouraging. There is now a chance that some or all of the adjoining field can be conserved in a similar fashion. We take an annual hay cut as late as possible in August or early September and so far we have decided to manage without stock grazing in the autumn.
We are considering an application for a grant to establish a hedge on one long side and perhaps plant a few small native trees in two or three groups to encourage birds and make the area more attractive.

Secondly as mentioned the adjoining field is of interest to local residents because it is now owned by the local council. A meeting of residents has been called for 10th Dec to discuss how the field might be used for the benefit of residents. You wont be surprised to learn that with others we have submitted a proposal to keep it more or less as a nature reserve. Here is a part of our proposal to be considered at the meeting.

"This proposal will provide our community with:

A) A pleasant and attractive place for residents of all ages and abilities

for recreational activities including walking and use of a fitness trail and the physical involvement in the development and management of the area.

B) A new and special educational resource for residents of all ages.

C) A rare opportunity for the community to have access to an unspoilt open area, close to the steadily increasing density of housing. It would use an area recently recognised by “The Somerset Environmental Records Centre” (SERC) as of significant conservation value and designated a County Wildlife Site.

These benefits will be achieved by managing the use of the land to meet all three objectives. A management plan will be prepared to include:

1. A plan for the planting of small to medium size trees, native to Somerset, in several small groups and likely to attract SSDC grants. This is important for encouraging birds into the area which will include woodpeckers, hawks and owls. Similar plans are being developed for the adjoining field.

2. A plan for a path on a winding route around the area taking account of the new trees. The path can also double up as a fitness trail not only for walkers but could also be used for a running and fitness club open to young people in the village. We anticipate gaining the support of the local running club in getting this established.

3. Ways in which the field can be used as a resource by the village school will be explored. A small area could be designated for School use for study or outdoor activities. The Education Manager for the SWT has expressed support for this proposal"

It will be of great interest to see how the meeting reacts to our proposal.

Finally in this report there is the initiative taken by people in Langport to join other towns in becoming a Transition Town. Totness in Devon was one of the first to start a move to reducing dependence on fossil fuels especially oil as oil supplies world wide both get more expensive and eventually start to run out. Its early days for Langport but two meetings have been held so far and another is arranged for Tuesday 11th Dec.

There is a web site for more info here.

News from the Wildlife Trust

Now for three key reports from the Wildlife Trust.
You can find more details of these items on the Trust web site or in the Trusts magazine. Web sites linked here for Somerset news,
and here for national news.

The Severn Barrage.

The Trust has expressed its concern about proposals to build a barrage across the Severn Estuary which is the subject of a report just issued. I received a copy in the post recently and it is 150 pages of detailed technical and economic considerations of whether the scheme is worth doing. They say it will generate 8.64 GW which would be 4.4% of the total UK electricity supply as it was in 2006 . Even the report says there are huge problems to be resolved before they will agree to the project so much remains to be debated. More info at: Sustainable Development Commission. Use this link.

Marine Protection.

The Somerset Wildlife Trust reported recently on its efforts to support a national campaign to persuade the Government to create Marine Environment legislation.
"The marine environment – our life support system – is on its knees, according to a new report by The Wildlife Trusts.
The report, Marine Reserves – TLC for our seas and sea life – was launched at the House of Commons on Wednesday. It explains the urgent action needed to allow UK seas to recover from centuries of over-intensive exploitation, for everything from food to building materials and oil. One of the key demands of The Wildlife Trusts’ ongoing campaign for a Marine Bill is the creation of ‘marine reserves’; places where all fishing and other damaging activities are prohibited. In the report, The Wildlife Trusts name 15 important wildlife areas around the UK coast to illustrate how marine reserves might protect wildlife and contribute towards healthy seas."
Go to DEFRA for the Governments view at this link.

Climate Change.

Following on from the Trusts Climate Friends campaign the Trust recently commented on, " the Government’s increasing recognition of the urgency for the country to adapt to climate change – through the Climate Change Bill published today (November 15). We urge that this must go hand in hand with our efforts to reduce carbon emissions."
There is a great deal of activity internationally not least at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali but there is still a long way to go before the man in the street begins to press our government to take strong action to reduce carbon emissions!

There are many organisations commenting on the UK Climate Change Bill and one that doesnt seem to get much attention in the media is Christian Aid. To get their views use this link for their web site.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Group news update

I am finding it hard at present to make time available to bring this blog up to date but its got to be done especially as there seems to be an increasing number of visitors to the site.
I would like to briefly tell you about news from our group, from the wildlife Trust and finally some related activities happening locally. As there is a lot to talk about I think I should make it three posts.

First our Group.

In our committee meeting on 6th Nov we motivated ourselves to seriously consider a review of the activities we wished to be involved in and how we might find the support to carry them all out.

After some thought we all met again on 20th Nov for an hour or so and concentrated on drawing up a list of members we hoped would be interested in coming to a discussion evening in January to listen to our ideas and to contribute some of their own. A volunteer was entrusted with making sense of our notes and for turning them into a typed list to be used to make personal contacts.

The list was ready several days later and to finalise our plans we met again on 27th Nov. We divided the list up into five sections and each took on the task of following up one section of around 10 names.
We had also agreed on what we would say during our telephone calls and how we would follow it up.
We wanted to be clear on what aspects of our activities we needed help on.
We also wanted to explain a little of how we operate as a group and how we might use sub committees.
We agreed that we would send an invitation to confirm the date and time and venue for the meeting. The date was fixed for 16th Jan.

Over the next few days committee started making their contacts so that by Dec 4th when we had agreed to have a pub lunch together with wives and husbands if they could stand the idea we were able to hear at least some degree of success and progress. We didnt want to spoil our Xmas end of year party so business was kept to a minimum. The lunch was for me and I hope everyone a very pleasant way to enjoy a sociable occasion.

And today 9th Dec we have a draft form for the invitation we will each use to send to our groups of contacts. We must finalise any comments within a day or so and start to issue them.

Finally please make a note that our next public meeting is on Jan10th in Langport at 7.30pm. You can find details on our Diary blog