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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Local Nature Reserves

Field B Blackthorn hedge in bloom last year.

Field A showing wildflowers, butterflies and wooden fence.

Last Dec 10th 2007 I gave a brief report on two adjoining local grassland areas, each one about 4 acres and both unimproved meadows. I'll refer to them as Field A and B.
Field A is manage by a group of local people with the aim of conserving the rich biodiversity of wild flowers, grasses, ancient hedges and fauna. The management group decided some time ago that a hedge should be planted on the only one side of the field with only a wooden fence. As there is currently grant funding available for such projects subject to approval progress has at last been made to go ahead. This has become urgent because delay would mean missing a chance for planting this spring and having to wait until next winter.
We have just received confirmation of approval of the grant and have placed our order for a large number of hedging plants. We are currently clearing the route of grass and expect to be planting over the next two weeks. The two pictures show some of the flowers and the wooden fence waiting for our new hedge.
In another effort to improve the wild flowers last autumn we spread a significant amount of Yellow Rattle seed ( Rhinanthus minor ) which we are told will help to restrain the grasses for the benefit of wild flowers. We await evidence that the seed has germinated.

Field B has recently be given to the local council for a nominal sum and is currently the subject of consultation with the local community to decide what the field should be used for. The characteristics of the field are very similar to our adjoining field. As you might expect we have made a written submission to the council to seek to have this field become a nature reserve too.
The consultation process has resulted in good support for a nature reserve but also for a bowls club,tennis courts, sports hall and a few other ideas. A council sub committee meets again next week to discuss what happens next. Needless to say we hope that most if not all the field can be saved from car parks, tarmac and buildings as far as possible. The photo above shows one end of the field where a blackthorn hedge gives a splendid display of blossom resulting in a fine crop of sloes and providing a home for the Brown Hairstreak butterfly which is relatively rare round here.
Our local wildlife group supports both projects. I will make further reports on their progress as they develop.

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