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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Beatrix Potter : A must visit place on my list!

 From the Armitt Museum Musum and Gallery and Library .Link: Potter

Beatrix Potter‘s life and art combine and complement each other.  From an early age, she had many interests, including natural history, mycology, archaeology, fossils and farming, but always she liked to draw and record whatever she was studying.  She was born on 28 July, 1866 at No. 2, Bolton Gardens, Kensington, and her early life was typical of many Victorian children with wealthy parents.  First a nanny and then a series of governesses presided over the nursery on the third floor and she recorded in her journal that this was preferable to formal schooling. It allowed her to develop her own interests without being forced into a regulation mould.

These interests began with the many animals she and her brother Bertram kept in their nursery, varying from newts, frogs, bats and a snake to the more usual rabbit Beatrix called Peter Piper.  The creatures were drawn and painted exhaustively.  As Beatrix grew older, her early studies were widened to include different aspects of the countryside.  She could not resist what she called ‘the irresistible desire to copy any beautiful object which strikes the eye … I must draw, however poor the result!‘

The best opportunities for sketching came during the family holidays.  These were taken in April, two weeks at a seaside resort, and during the summer, three months in the country.  At first Scotland was the choice, at Dalguise in Perthshire, but from 1882 it was mainly the Lake District.  Beatrix discovered the beauty of fungi at Dalguise, learning much about them from the local postman, Charles Mclntosh.  She became knowledgeable about obscure species and studied their propagation.  Eventually she had over 250 drawings of fungi, over 40 of different mosses and many microscope studies of the process of germination.  Her theory on this process was presented in the form of a paper ‘On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae‘ to the leading scientists of the day at a meeting of the Linnean Society, but though proved to be right in later years, it was not then considered tenable.

Beatrix Potter was one of the most iconic and influential figures of the Lake District and also a member of the Armitt almost from its founding in 1912. She was a major benefactor and on her death in 1943 she bequeathed to us her exquisite botanical drawings and watercolours, together with her personal first edition copies of her ‘little’ books. With this archive together with material from the National Trust Archive, The Frederick Warne Archive, and the Beatrix Potter Society, we have created an exhibition on her life that is guaranteed to fascinate anyone who loves the Lakes.

Between 1888 and 1898 Beatrix Potter developed a passion for the study of mycology, culminating in her research paper on the germination of macro-fungi being presented to England’s oldest natural history organization, The Linnean Society in London. The intriguing outcome of her venture into Victorian science can be discovered in ‘Image and Reality’.
During this period she produced over 450 drawings and watercolours to support her research. These works have the almost unique distinction of being both scientifically accurate and beautiful works of art. She herself considered them to be amongst her best work. On her death she left her portfolios of mycological work to the Armitt and we are proud to be the custodian of her scientific legacy.

Beatrix Potter also had a strong entrepreneurial streak that lasted long after she lost interest in publishing. From 1913 she turned away from writing to take up farming in her beloved Lake District. This became her life.
 In the final act of this singular journey she used her great wealth to buy up large areas of the Lake District, that she believed were at risk, with the sole purpose of leaving it all to the nation through the National Trust.

‘Image and Reality’ is Beatrix Potter’s remarkable story told through her own words and images and through the great wealth of archival material held at the Armitt; it is a portrait of an extraordinarily rich life lived during a period of great social upheaval.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Climate change news

 Significant legal case news I think!

Luisa Neubauer took the German government to court over its climate change law -- and she won.

The cases are most often centered around the idea that future generations have a right to live in a world that is not completely decimated by the climate crisis. 
Neubauer and her co-claimants argued that the current German government's failure to have a concrete plan to reduce emissions beyond 2030 would make their lives more difficult because they'd be forced to confront the catastrophic impact of climate change in the future. 
The 2019 law called for a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 from 1990 levels. 
The lawsuit argued that the target wasn't sufficient to meet Germany's obligations under the Paris accord. Under the agreement, most signatories pledged to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that warming of more than 2 degrees would have devastating consequences, including sea level rise, frequent heatwaves, extreme weather and droughts. 
"The [German Constitutional] court was not so much talking about the impacts of climate change on young people, but the impact of mitigation measures," said Gerry Liston, the head of climate litigation at Global Legal Action Network, or GLAN. 
"If action is delayed, it will require vastly greater emissions reductions in the future and that would impose a massive burden on those alive then," he said.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Batty Piece

The Campaign to Protect Rural England ( CPRE) do a great job promoting the amazing value of our countryside and should be supported.

Here is what they say about hedgerows. 

"Hedgerows are the vital stitching in the patchwork of our countryside. Not only are they beautiful, with shifting seasonal colours, but they also provide homes and corridors for wildlife. And all the while they help tackle the climate crisis by capturing carbon from the air and storing it in plants, slowing climate change. We’d like to see more hedgerows planted and restored, and support the Climate Change Committee’s call for a 40% increase in the extent of hedgerows by 2050 to help tackle the climate emergency."

At last I have added some photos which I took a few days ago in our very own meadow shown below.

I am pleased to see the 200 metre long hedgerow we planted in 2006 with young native trees is now looking full of interest as we see the 7 different native trees flowering and growing well in Batty Piece in Curry Rivel, Somerset. The new hedge links up with ancient hedges at both ends which all enclose a 4 acre protected wild flower meadow.The photo shows the path we keep mown around the field. 

There is a rich covering of buttercups, cowslips and later on there will be many Pyramidal orchids too.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Wilder Somerset 2030

In this post I am hoping to focus on how my local Wildlife Trust here in Somerset is developing a new approach to its work of protecting nature. I am looking forward to a major Zoom meeting presentation on the 19th May when I hope to hear details of its plans and the thinking behind those plans. On the Trust web site they start with a quote from Sir David Attenborough. ( I have just finished reading his impressive book ""Life on Air" and I recommend it to all. So I know the extent of his lfe work in documenting wildlife around the world and pay attention to what he says) The Wildlife Trusts play a very important part in protecting our natural heritage. I would encourage anyone who cares about wildlife to join them. Sir David Attenborough Here is a short extract from the Trusts web site: Bigger, better, more joined up At the heart of our Wilder Somerset 2030 is tripling the amount of land managed for nature. It’s a significant challenge, but one we can only achieve if we work together. We need to create a strong, interconnected network of wild spaces and healthy habitats that provide space for nature to thrive and and restore the resilience of our ecosystems at a landscape scale, which can then provide healthy soils, clean air and water. Land of any size can contribute to this Nature Recovery Network – nature reserves, community spaces, gardens, farms, parks, churchyards and schools – it works at any scale. " Wilder Somerset 2030 Protect and restore Our work over the decades has slowed the rate at which species have been lost, and has protected important habitats in Somerset but we must now take a more radical and urgent approach and involve many more people in acting locally for nature’s recovery. Small things add up to make a difference. But the challenges nature is facing are vast, so we are all going to have to think bigger, think bolder and take more action together to have the impact that’s needed. At the heart of our Wilder Somerset 2030 is tripling the amount of land managed for nature. It’s a significant challenge, but one we can only achieve if we work together. We need to create a strong, interconnected network of wild spaces and healthy habitats that provide space for nature to thrive and and restore the resilience of our ecosystems at a landscape scale, which can then provide healthy soils, clean air and water. Land of any size can contribute to this Nature Recovery Network – nature reserves, community spaces, gardens, farms, parks, churchyards and schools – it works at any scale." So I await with high hopes as the plans are rolled out around Somerset and especially to see how our local group , "The Heart of the Levels" , can play a part! I hope to pass on more news in the near future.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Natural England excellent new report: Relevant to our CWCT project and COP 26

by Ruth Gregg, Senior Specialist for Climate Change at Natural England and lead author of the report, and Mike Morecroft, Principal Specialist for climate change at Natural England and one of the report authors In November this year the world’s attention will turn to Glasgow, where the UN COP26 Climate Summit will be held. This is a critical step in getting the world on track to meet the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement, keeping global temperature rise to well below 2oC and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5oC. To achieve this target global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) will have to fall by around 45% by 2030 (the UK target is 68% by 2030), and reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means that emissions of GHGs are balanced by removals from the atmosphere. ‘Nature’ is one of the priority campaigns in the run up to COP26 to address the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss in a joined up way. Globally, around a quarter of GHGs come from land management activities, including deforestation and agriculture. However, terrestrial and marine ecosystems take up carbon dioxide equivalent to over half of the emissions caused by people. The challenge is to reduce anthropogenic emissions and increase uptake by ecosystems, storing carbon in soils, sediments and vegetation. Natural England has just published a new report reviewing carbon storage and sequestration by natural habitats in England. It takes an overview, looking across the full range of habitats so we can build up a clear, quantitative picture of which store most carbon, sources of emissions, and where the best opportunities are to promote carbon uptake (sequestration). It updates our previous 2012 report on this subject taking account of the new scientific literature and the increased importance of the issue for conservationists, farmers, foresters, policy makers and others.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

I was pleased to receive the details of a report on the old Somerset Railway Line long since abandoned in the name of progress! Commentary was by John Betjeman. In view of all the attention now being given to loss of bidiversity and degredation of wildlife it is very interesting to see the pictures from Somerst as it was 60 years ago and the evidence of changes since then . Even then John Betjeman was drawing attention to the changes taking place. Please view the vidio film from long ago!! See the link to view this documentary? David, I came across this old BBC film by John Betjeman about a Somerset steam railway which might possibly be of interest. It was probably made around the mid-1950s and you might recognise some of the places featured. It’s also a chance to wallow in nostalgia! Regards

New initiative by Somerset Wildlife Trust

Dear Supporter, It’s finally here! We're excited to tell you that the Big Give Green Match Fund is now LIVE! With your help, we hope we can smash our online target of £5,625 for our A Greener Somerset for Wildlife and People project which will unlock a total of £11,250. Because, from NOW until noon on Thursday 29th April, any donation, large or small, made online to our project will be matched - meaning your support will make double the difference and have twice the impact for Somerset's wildlife. Despite a tricky year for the Trust, we are SO excited about what’s to come for us, as we launch our new 10-year strategy 'Wilder Somerset 2030', but we need YOU to help give our plans a fantastic kickstart! Can you support us this week as we take part in the Big Give Green Match Fund, to help us create A Greener Somerset for Wildlife and People? Any donation you give HERE from NOW until noon on Thursday 29th April will be matched - meaning every pound you give will be doubled and will make twice the impact for Somerset's wildlife! Thank you so much for your continued support. We can't do what we do without you.

Friday, April 16, 2021

New announcements from Plantlife

News of the latest campaigns from "Plantlife" in the UK. "Whilst there’s still a wintry chill in the air, Spring has arrived and bluebells, cowslips, and cuckooflowers (also known as Milkmaids and Lady’s Smock!) are blossoming on our road verges again. We’ve been reflecting on one of the busiest winter seasons ever for the road verge campaign. It’s fantastic to see so much interest and enthusiasm for more wildlife-friendly road verges and we wanted to share some good news stories with you: Last month Cambridge County Council announced a new verge management plan to support biodiversity, including cutting times sympathetic to the local flora and trials of collecting grass cuttings. It has been great to work with the council teams on this and see them bring their knowledge of the verge network to add to our best practice guidance to create a really promising new plan for Cambridgeshire’s verges. Also in the east of England, East Suffolk Council have announced 60 new wild sites, many of which are road verges, that will be part of the expanded ‘Pardon the weeds, we’re feeding the bees’ campaign which was started last year. And in Essex, following the successful wildlife-friendly management trials last summer, the scheme will be extended throughout Braintree Borough this year. Over in Wales, Monmouthshire County Council are inviting local residents have their say on the management of verge and greenspaces – if you’re local do take part in the survey. And even if you’re not local to the area, you might like to have a look at the Council’s brilliant Nature Isn’t Neat project, which is changing how verges and greenspaces are managed and raising awareness about the importance of pollinators and wild spaces. What’s happening where? Many of you have been in touch to ask what’s being done for road verges in your local area, and we’re keen to celebrate the steps councils are taking to make road verge management more sustainable and wildlife-friendly. So we wanted to share with you our map highlighting the positive progress being made on our verges. We’re hearing about new projects every few weeks – there’s so much great work happening - so don’t worry if you project isn’t yet featured. We’ll be updating the map throughout the year and featuring more case studies and local projects as we go. If you work in a local authority and want to let us know about the wildlife-friendly verge projects you are working on, please do get in touch with us. We’d be delighted to learn about your work and discuss your projects with you." Contact Plantlife at :

Monday, April 12, 2021

News from Somerset Wildlife Trust

"Wilder Churches - a new initiative Wilder Churches is a new partnership initiative between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Bath and Wells that is supporting communities to get to know the wildlife in their local churchyard and work together to find ways to increase the value of these special places for wildlife. Churchyards are often the oldest enclosed piece of land in a parish and many still support a rich variety of wildflowers and wildlife, having remained unscathed from the widespread loss of habitats seen in the wider countryside due to changing land management practices. The Diocese of Bath and Wells oversees 477 parishes of over 900,000 people in the county and they are working with us to bring communities and church leaders together to learn more about their churchyards and how they can manage them with wildlife in mind. Key to the initiative is the ongoing support provided to anyone and everyone interested in being involved. Launched on 24 March 2021, regular, free online training sessions are supporting communities to take positive action at a pivotal time for nature." Here in Curry Rivel we have tried before to agree a more nature friendly treatment of the area round the Church with limited success so now hoping for a little progress>

Monday, April 05, 2021

CWCT meeting of Trustees and members on Wed 7th April

An item of interest is to discuss the management of a small area to be reserved as a meadow. A goverment report on this topic has beeen circulated for comment. GUIDELINES FOR GROWING SEED CROPS TO FEED FARMLAND BIRDS IN WINTER INTRODUCTION These guidelines have been produced using the results of a three-year DEFRA-funded project carried out by the Allerton Research and Educational Trust with the Game Conservancy Trust, which researched the use of seeding crops and other plants by seed-eating birds in winter and also measured seed persistence and depletion rates. Also as part of the project, a large scale survey carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology quantified the value of game crops, wild bird cover on set-aside, and wildlife seed mixtures in the pilot Arable Stewardship scheme. Information from other trials has also been drawn on where relevant. The work showed that growing crops to feed seed-eating birds over winter can be a valuable way of providing food for these species which can otherwise be scarce on modern farmland. It is thought that lack of food during winter may be an important factor in the decline of seed-eating farmland birds. The crops were also used by predominantly insectivorous birds such as thrushes and the dunnock, and by gamebirds. For these species, the provision of cover and favourable conditions for invertebrates may also be important.