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- We are the leading authority on wildlife conservation in Hertfordshire and Middlesex
- With volunteers, we manage a network of more than 40 nature reserves , covering nearly 2,000 acres. Beyond this our vision is of a living landscape, where we work with others to improve our towns and countryside for wildlife
- There are 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK: we are the only charities working to protect the full range of UK wildlife and habitats at a local level
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National ‘Charter for Chalk Streams’ to be launched on River Beane
22 May 2013
On Thursday 23 May a ‘Charter for Chalk Streams’ will be launched by an alliance of national conservation organisations and local river restoration groups on the banks of the virtually dried up River Beane in Hertfordshire. It calls for government and its agencies to radically reform water policies and restore endangered chalk streams to good health.
Chalk streams are recognised as a unique global asset providing a pristine environment for wildlife, with rich clean water and high quality habitat. Only a small number receive the high levels of protection that their conservation status requires.
Tom Day, Head of Living Landscapes at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: “It is fitting that the Chalk Streams Charter is being launched here in Hertfordshire. Our county boasts a number of chalk streams, but they have suffered badly from over-abstraction, pollution and modification. As hosts of a new catchment management plan for the Rivers Beane and Mimram, launched in January this year, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is tackling these problems head on. The poor state of our chalk rivers is a national disgrace which we are tackling at a local level. We are calling for our chalk rivers to be designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, giving them the legal protection they deserve. Our Living Rivers project is working in partnership with statutory agencies, environmental charities, local landowners, community organisations and river groups to take practical action on the ground. There are only 180 of these special rivers in the world; it is our duty to protect them.”
The launch of the Charter will be chaired by George Hollingbery MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Angling, who said: "The experience in Hertfordshire in particular demonstrates why the changes pushed for in the Charter are needed. Yes we need new houses and yes we need more employment but not at the expense of a unique habitat, 85% of which is found only in the UK. Our goal is not complicated. We simply ask for a management of water resources that allows people and their natural heritage to live side by side and in balance. Surely that's not too much to ask?"
The Charter is calling for a range of measures, including the introduction of compulsory water metering to reduce waste and cut unsustainable abstractions. It follows on from a special summit last December and is supported by The Wildlife Trusts, WWF-UK and the Rivers Trust along with local fisheries and river groups from Dorset to Yorkshire.
Stort Catchment Management Plan
Beane and Mimram Catchment Management Plan
Stop nature being de-valued in schools
11 April 2013
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is concerned that the proposed National Curriculum Framework in England no longer requires children to ‘be taught to care for the environment’ or for them to ‘be taught about ways in which living things and the environment need protection’.
Add your voice to the campaign to reinstate learning about nature and wildlife in the National Curriculum; consultation on the proposed changes is open until 16 April 2013.
Plan launched to protect the River Stort
9 April 2013
An online plan to improve the health of the River Stort has been launched by the Stort Catchment Partnership. The Partnership was brought together by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in spring 2012, with financial support from the Environment Agency. It includes local councillors, water companies, the Environment Agency, volunteer conservation groups and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
The development of the Catchment Management Plan is part of a nationwide pilot scheme driven by Defra and the Environment Agency, with the aim of helping all our rivers reach ‘Good Ecological Status’ by 2027.
Charlie Bell, Hertfordshire Living Rivers Officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: "Most of the UK’s rivers are not as healthy as they should be. Although many have improved dramatically over the past few decades, current problems include pollution, invasive non-native species, abstraction and physical modifications such as weirs. As a result, wildlife has disappeared from many of our rivers and people are finding other places to spend their leisure time.The Stort is an important natural resource which needs to be protected. We hope that the publication of this Catchment Management Plan will help to safeguard its future both for the people who use and enjoy the river and the wildlife that depends upon it."
To view the Stort Catchment Management plan visit stortriverpartnership.org.uk
Appeal to be lodged against HS2 judgement
15 March 2013
We are very disappointed that the High Court has sided with the Government in ruling that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive does not apply to HS2. The High Court has also rejected the Government’s claim that it had, in practice, complied with the requirements of the SEA. This leaves an opportunity to appeal against the judgement.
HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), the organisation which led the Judicial Review claiming the Government had acted unlawfully by not carrying out the SEA, will appeal against this judgement.
Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust commented: “The court’s decision today, if it stands, adds to the pressure for proper alternatives to be looked at when HS2 Ltd’s Environmental Impact Assessment of the route is brought out in spring, and for Parliament itself to take proper account of wildlife if the HS2 hybrid bill goes forward. The Judge has ruled that much of the consideration of the impact on wildlife and the environment can take place later in the process, but we have grave concerns about how that will happen in practice”.
The Judicial Review brought by HS2 Action Alliance, supported by several Wildlife Trusts, set out environmental grounds challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s decision on phase one of HS2.
The submission, focussed on how, in HS2AA’s view, the Government had acted unlawfully in not complying with Strategic Environmental Assessment regulations, and ignored obligations under the Habitats Directive to carry out impact assessments on protected species and habitats.. We believe the Government had tried to side-step a vital process for ensuring that decisions that affect the environment are sound.
The very important Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) process is one that, under European Union law, has to be applied to large-scale plans. SEA ensures decision-makers are fully aware of the environmental consequences of their decisions, and have thought through possible alternatives. The key aspect of an SEA is that there has to be consultation and a consideration of alternatives. With HS2, these are the aspects that we are most concerned about.
HS2 Action Alliance response to the High Court judgements.
More about the Trust and HS2.
Radlett rail freight terminal will destroy Wildlife Sites
4 February 2013
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has twice objected to the proposed rail freight terminal on the former Radlett Aerodrome site near St Albans, as it will result in the loss of important habitats and the wildlife they support.
- Two Local Wildlife Sites will be completely destroyed, with the loss of breeding habitat for birds
- The proposed mitigation in the form of a 'country park' is inadequate - it will be formed of fragmented parcels of land rather than a continuous area where habitats could be restored
- There will be increased disturbance in currently undisturbed areas, with adverse consequences for wildlife
See the Trust's full position statement
Next phase of High Speed Rail 2 announced
28 January 2013
The next phase of HS2 (High Speed Rail 2) going north of the West Midlands in Y routes to Leeds and to Manchester was announced by the government on Monday 28 January.
The Government’s initial preferred routes for the northern sections of HS2 were given in a written statement to Parliament on Monday 28 January. This is not a formal consultation at this stage. If the process followed is similar to the first stage of HS2, these routes will be modified before a formal consultation goes ahead.
In December Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust supported the Judicial Review brought by HS2 Action Alliance setting out environmental grounds challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s decision on HS2.
The Trust is surprised that the government has decided to go ahead with the announcement of the next phase of HS2 before the results of the five Judicial Reviews heard in December are published.
There are signs that the government has learned some lessons from Phase 1 of the HS2 route. It is likely that the routes going north to Leeds and to Manchester will follow existing transport corridors, and the Government has identified some key ecological impacts at an early stage. However, it is not clear if all the available data on important wildlife habitats provided by The Wildlife Trusts affected by these routes, has been taken into account.
Quarter of a million people say we must protect sea life
24 January 2013
A petition signed by 250,000 people was delivered to Westminster this week by The Wildlife Trusts, asking for greater protection of the UK's marine life.
The government has announced that 31 Marine Conservation Zones will be created, which falls short of the 127 areas identified as in need of protection.
The Trusts want to see more designations; MCZs must also be well-connected for them to be effective.
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust's Chairman Mike Master (left) and Chief Executive Jane Durney (right) joined Hertfordshire MP Charles Walker, who hosted the Trusts' Petition Fish event at the House of Commons.
Tell government that 31 MCZs is just the start
Become an MCZ friend
Plan launched to protect Hertfordshire’s precious chalk streams
23 January 2013
An online plan to improve the health of two very special Hertfordshire rivers has been launched by the Beane and Mimram Catchment Partnership. The launch represents the culmination of nine months of hard work in developing the plan and the partnership will continue to work together to improve the health of these rivers.
Charlie Bell, Hertfordshire Living Rivers Officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, explained: “The rivers Beane and Mimram are both chalk streams. There are fewer than 200 chalks streams in the world, so here in Hertfordshire we have a duty to protect and restore these rare habitats and the fantastic wildlife they support, such as water voles, trout and kingfishers. It’s vital that these rivers are recognised as the rare and special places that they are, and we hope that the publication of this Catchment Management Plan will help achieve this.”
The Beane and Mimram Catchment Partnership is made up of people and organisations with an interest in the Rivers Beane and Mimram. It was brought together by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in spring 2012, with financial support from the Environment Agency. The development of the Catchment Management Plan is part of a nationwide pilot scheme driven by Defra and the Environment Agency, with the aim of helping all our rivers reach ‘Good Ecological Status’ by 2027.
Find out more about the Beane and Mimram Catchment Management Plan or visit Charlie Bell's Living Rivers blog
Rare bittern sighted at Amwell Nature Reserve
22 January 2013
One of the UK’s rarest breeding birds, the bittern, has taken up residence for the winter at Amwell Nature Reserve; a Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve near Ware.
The bittern is a small brown heron which is extremely rare - one of the most threatened bird species in the UK. It is also very difficult to detect as its brown streaked plumage gives it excellent camouflage as it hunts silently for food in the reeds at the edges of wetland. Because of the bittern’s scarcity and its reliance on reedbed habitats, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has undertaken a special programme of work at four of its nature reserves in Hertfordshire to encourage the bittern to return year after year.
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: “We have been working with conservation partners over the last ten years to increase the areas of wet reedbed in Hertfordshire, which is now double the area (22 hectares) compared with 2002. Reedbeds support a great variety of wildlife and the rare bitterns particularly need reedbeds where there are plenty of small fish - their main food. Amwell Nature Reserve is internationally important to nature conservation because of the number of water birds that visit. Our Reserves Officers, supported by teams of volunteers, work extremely hard to create a suitable habitat for bitterns and other wetland wildlife and so we are delighted that such a rare winter visitor has continued to overwinter here at our reserve at Amwell.”
There have only been two other sightings of the bittern in the whole of Hertfordshire this winter – and these were also at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust nature reserves; one at Rye Meads (near Hoddesdon) and the other at Tring Reservoirs.
Get your 2013 calendar from the Wildlife Trust
3 January 2013
The theme of our calendar this year is 'A Living Landscape', featuring photos from our 2012 photo competition including the winning image of fallow deer at Therfield by Greg Covington. The calendar is only £6 - order yours today and help protect local wildlife at the same time.
Order your 2013 calendar
Dormice confirmed in Balls Wood
20 November 2012
A survey carried out in October in Balls Wood by an ecological consultancy as part of the Woodlands for People and Wildlife Project found evidence of a healthy hazel dormouse population in the area.
Two hundred nest tubes were placed around the woods in April in the hope of gathering evidence of dormice. When revisited in September, surveyors found five of the nests had been used. These nests, along with the discovery of a live dormouse are proof of an established population in the area.
Susannah O’Riordan, South Herts Woods Living Landscape Officer, present during the discovery, said: “We are so excited! We thought that dormice might be present at Balls Wood, given that the habitat is quite suitable and based on previous reports. It is fantastic to finally get the proof. Hazel dormice are affected by habitat fragmentation and loss, so it’s vital that we protect this population. The survey shows that Balls Wood Nature Reserve is probably one of the best sites in Hertfordshire for this elusive mammal.”
Hazel dormice are small, nocturnal mammals which spend most of their waking hours in the branches of trees. They can spend up to three quarters of their life asleep, hibernating during the winter, and entering a deep sleep called torpor during summers of low food availability. They feed mainly on berries and nuts, with the occasional small insect as part of their diet. Before their hibernation period from autumn through to spring, they will fatten up primarily on hazelnuts before retreating to nests built under leaf litter on the forest floor.
With the confirmation of dormice in Balls Wood, there will be habitat enrichment taking place alongside the current projects in the woods. This could involve possible hazel planting and coppicing, encouraging the growth of brambles and honeysuckle and putting up permanent nest boxes in trees which provide ideal summertime habitats for the dormice.
Fungus threat to ash trees
12 November 2012
The Wildlife Trusts are very concerned about ash dieback caused by a fungus Chalara fraxinea . Ash trees are important features in our landscape, often prominent in hedgerows beside country roads and on field edges. They are key elements of woodland, with lots of different wildlife living on and in them, including woodpeckers, bats, small birds, insects and mammals. Their loss would have a dramatic negative effect on our natural environment.
How you can spot ash dieback:
The Forestry Commission has issued advice for woodland owners and people visiting woods. There is also a useful illustrated guide on how to identify diseased trees, showing the different types of lesions on the bark of young and mature trees, and where to report your sightings. We are checking recent ash plantings and mature ash trees on our reserves to see if ash dieback caused by Chalara fraxinea is affecting the trees. The Forestry Commission is updating its website as surveys are completed.
What HMWT is doing to stop it spreading:There are hundreds of ash trees in Hertfordshire, with suspected cases of ash dieback at Rye Meads Nature Reserve close to other HMWT reserves. The HMWT has no plans for more ash planting.
HMWT is reducing any risk of accidently spreading the disease by ensuring staff, reserve officers and volunteer wardens are aware of the symptoms of Chalara fraxinea, what to do if they think they may have spotted the disease and advising sensible biosecurity measures as outlined by DEFRA.
Listen to Tony Whitbread from Sussex Wildlife Trust on BBC Radio 4's Today programme
Badger cull delay welcome: time to throw weight behind alternatives
23 October 2012
The Wildlife Trusts welcome the Environment Secretary’s announcement to delay the badger cull but are disappointed by his (economic) motives.
The Wildlife Trusts strongly urge the Government to use this time to focus on and plan a comprehensive vaccination strategy. The Government has not prioritised deployment of the BadgerBCG vaccine, taking a piecemeal approach with minimal effort to market and support its use.
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Delaying this cull for economic reasons does not offer any reassurance that this Government has reached a turning point in its approach to bovineTB. What it should do is draw a line under any consideration of a badger cull.
“We continue to press the Government to demonstrate much greater commitment to badger vaccination and shall continue to push the EU to change the rules to allow a cattle vaccine to be deployed, once development is complete. Now is the time for all parties to throw their weight behind cattle-to-cattle control measures, vaccine development and deployment and improved biosecurity to deal with bovineTB.”
Twelve Wildlife Trusts are working on badger vaccination programmes including Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. GWT’s 2011 programme was the first of its kind in the UK to be undertaken by a voluntary organisation. The Trust ran the programme at seven sites, including a dairy farm and covering a total of 170 hectares. Initial results regarding the practicalities of vaccination demonstrate it to be an affordable and viable alternative to culling.
The Wildlife Trusts strongly urge the farming community, conservation organisations and the Government to continue to work together to confront this disease through the following measures:
• Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm
• Badger vaccination: Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. We also urge Defra to develop a comprehensive vaccination strategy and continue development of an oral badger vaccine
• Cattle vaccine: Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
Woodland work begins in Hertford Heath
22 October 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has started work to improve a woodland in Hertford Heath with the help of funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and The Veolia Environmental Trust.
New fencing, footbridges, a viewing platform, benches, gates and information panels are being installed at the Trust’s Balls Wood Nature Reserve, to improve the visitor experience at this special wildlife haven.
Susannah O’Riordan, South Herts Woods Living Landscapes Officer, said: “The work happening over the next few months will make access around the woods easier for our visitors, as well as enhancing everyone’s enjoyment and knowledge of the nature reserve.”
Susannah continued: “Paths are likely to become muddy and rutted while the work is going on and there will be lots of machinery in and around the woods. It may be necessary to temporarily close some sections of paths and rides for a short time for safety reasons. If you are visiting the reserves please take extra care during this time and take heed of any warning signs on site, particularly if you have any children or dogs with you who might be tempted to run off into the undergrowth.”
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, McNabb Laurie, said: “We support community and environmental projects across the UK, including ones with the objective of opening up and improving nature reserves such as Balls Wood. I look forward to seeing the work completed and the new visitor features being used and enjoyed.”
The Veolia Environmental Trust awarded £26,518 to the project through the Landfill Communities Fund. The improvements are part of the Trust’s wider Woodlands for People and Wildlife project that has received £462,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is working to increase biodiversity, improve access and information for visitors and encourage local people to get involved in caring for a number of important woodlands that form a broken chain across South Hertfordshire.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “We at HLF are delighted to support Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in restoring this important habitat and are very excited to see work getting underway. Once complete, the works will enable more people to enjoy and learn about the woodland and the rare species living here, whilst also conserving it for the future.”
Stevenage MP 'walks the Beane' to highlight river crisis
15 October 2012
On Friday 12 October a group of concerned local people, community groups and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland came together to walk a one-mile section of the dried up River Beane. Over 50 people attended the event, which they hope will raise awareness of the river’s sad state, and support the current campaign to restore flow.
The river, a chalk stream, is fed by groundwater – rainwater which has been filtered through the chalk and is stored in the sponge-like rock. Some of this water should emerge from crystal clear springs at the top of the River Beane’s course. However, water is pumped from the groundwater to supply homes and workplaces in Stevenage and the surrounding area (this is called ‘abstraction’). The Beane aquifer has been recognised as over-abstracted for many years. The over-abstraction of the groundwater is causing the river to regularly dry up completely, with devastating effects on local wildlife. The wet spring and summer have done little to relieve the situation in the long-term, with groundwater levels still significantly lower than is sustainable for the river.
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said, "It is clear from our walk on Friday that local people care deeply about the River Beane and want to see it restored. The river plays an important part in many of our lives and is highly valued by the local community. It is one of only 200 chalk rivers left in the world and it should be recognised for its global significance. I am delighted to be working in partnership with the campaign to reduce abstraction and restore water to the river".
Stop the badger cull
18 September 2012
What you can do to help: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovineTB#petition
This autumn trials will take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset to test the suitability of ‘controlled shooting’ as a method of culling badgers in an effort to combat the problem of bovine TB in England. The trials will assess the practicality and cost of this culling method, rather than trapping and culling badgers. They will not assess the impact on levels of TB. A number of legal attempts to block the trial have been rejected and the cull is expected to get underway soon.
The Wildlife Trusts’ position on badgers & bovine TBThe Wildlife Trusts are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer. Biosecurity and vaccination should be at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease rather than a badger cull.
We believe that efforts to tackle the disease should therefore include the following measures:
• Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm.
• Badger vaccination: Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. We also urge Defra to continue developing an oral badger vaccine.
• Cattle vaccine: Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
How could a badger cull make the bovine TB problem worse?Badgers typically live in social groups of four to seven animals with defined territorial boundaries. Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, causing surviving badgers to range more widely than normal and increasing the risks of disease transmission. This is known as the 'perturbation effect'. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB concluded in its final report (2007) that it was 'unable to conceive of a system of culling, other than the systematic elimination, or virtual elimination, of badgers over very extensive areas, that would avoid the serious adverse consequences of perturbation'.
What are The Wildlife Trusts doing?
Our involvement with this issue over a number of years has led us to the conclusion that a sustained programme of vaccination, alongside improved biosecurity measures, would be the best means of tackling bTB.
We are therefore working hard to demonstrate how the badger vaccine can be deployed practically. Last year Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first non-governmental organisation to begin deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine and a number of other Trusts are beginning vaccination programmes in 2012.
The Wildlife Trusts are making the case for vaccination to the Government and we will continue to press them to reject the badger cull.
What can I do?
The key to convincing the Government to reject the culling of badgers is to show that vaccination is a viable way to control bovine TB. A number of Wildlife Trusts are carrying out vaccination programmes, but they need your support. If we can demonstrate the effectiveness of badger vaccination we can convince the Government to abandon the cull.
Take action today: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovineTB#petition
Rare local wetland to get makeover11 September 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have started vital restoration work on an important but relatively unknown wetland nature reserve near Bishop’s Stortford. Thorley Wash Nature Reserve in the Stort Valley contains habitats that are nationally rare. The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the diversity of wildflowers it supports. Habitat restoration is urgently needed to protect its special marshy grassland wildlife.
It isn’t currently possible to access the site with maintenance vehicles, so a bridge will be constructed. Habitat restoration will include removal of willow which is severely threatening the important grassland habitat. The Trust will also be clearing overgrown ditches, fencing parts of the reserve for livestock and improving walking access. Some of the removed willow will need to be burnt on site. Spellbrook Lane East will be closed for six weeks during the construction of the bridge.
Jenny Sherwen, Community Nature Reserves Officer for Thorley Wash, said: “These restoration works are vital to restore this nationally rare habitat before it’s too late. The reserve has been unmanaged for a number of years which means the wildflowers that make this site special could be eradicated completely by more dominant species. Some of the willow that has sprung up will be removed to maintain a balance of habitats, and the site will start to look very different over the next few weeks. It is going to be very exciting to see what wildflowers and other wildlife will thrive after the works are completed.”
Jenny continued: “Wetland habitats like those at Thorley Wash Nature Reserve were once commonly found across Southern Britain, but due to agricultural changes and drainage after the Second World War this habitat is now a rarity in Hertfordshire and Essex - and across the UK as a whole. We need to take action to protect it.”
Leadership needed for nature's recovery
17 July 2012
One year on from the publication of the Natural Environment White Paper, The Wildlife Trust movement welcomes the Efra Select Committee report into the White Paper, published today.
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We agree with the Committee that leadership from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, along with the Cabinet Office, is essential if Government is to fulfil its desire to be the ‘greenest government ever’. It is particularly encouraging that the Committee has recognised the importance of nature to our lives and the economy. A fundamental part of that is the successful delivery of the Natural Environment White Paper.
Though progress has been made on delivery of some White Paper commitments, The Wildlife Trusts share the Committee’s concerns that Defra has not published an overarching action plan for delivery of the Natural Environment White Paper’s aims and commitments.
The Wildlife Trusts welcome the conclusion within the Efra Select Committee report that Defra should use the pilot stage for Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) to clarify their specific objectives. However, Paul Wilkinson added: “The current priority should be for Nature Improvement Areas to be part and parcel of the planning system. They should be included in every new Local Plan and be identified as part of local ecological networks everywhere across England. We will keep up pressure on the Government to deliver against its vision to secure nature’s recovery.”
The Wildlife Trusts initiated the call for a White Paper in the run up to the last election believing that the time had come for the state to show leadership in securing nature’s recovery. In addition, following on from the publication of the National Ecosystem Assessment, it has called for the integration of the value of the natural environmental across Government policy and decision-making.
Grant helps Hertford Heath woodland
17 July 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has secured funding of over £26,000 from The Veolia Environmental Trust, made through the Landfill Communities Fund, to enhance an important woodland at Hertford Heath.
The grant will contribute towards the purchase and installation of new fencing, footbridges, a viewing platform, woodland paths, benches and information panels at the Trust’s Balls Wood Nature Reserve, to improve the visitor experience at this special wildlife haven.
Susannah O’Riordan, South Herts Woods Living Landscapes Officer, said: “We are very pleased that The Veolia Environmental Trust is supporting this important project at Balls Wood. We want to make it easier for people to enjoy spotting the rich and varied wildlife at the reserve and to learn all about what makes this oak and hornbeam woodland so special - from great crested newts and grass snakes to stunning white admiral butterflies and emperor dragonflies. A number of threatened species have found a haven here.”
The grant will contribute to the Trust’s wider Woodlands for People and Wildlife programme which is working to increase biodiversity, improve access and information for visitors and encourage local people to get involved in caring for a number of important woodlands that form a broken chain across South Hertfordshire.
Woodland work starts soon
24 May 2012
The Woodlands for People and Wildlife project has embarked on a new exciting phase after concentrating on habitat restoration work over the winter months. This summer we are carrying out work to improve access into and around Balls Wood and Gobions Wood. We’re also improving interpretation on the reserves.
At Balls Wood we will be installing new fencing and gates, upgrading the bridges and improving the drainage and surfaces of some of the rides and footpaths. We will also be putting in new seats and benches as well as entrance signs and information panels.
At Gobions Wood we will be upgrading some of the gates, bridges and steps, and installing new signs and information panels.
We hope that this work will make access around the woods easier for our visitors as well as enhancing everyone’s enjoyment and knowledge of these incredible places.
There will be lots of machinery in and around the woods whilst this work is going on and some paths and areas may need closing off temporarily whilst work is being carried out. Please take extra care during this time and take heed of any warning signs on site, particularly if you have any children or dogs with you who might be tempted to run off into the undergrowth.
Meadow wildlife in Hoddesdon gets help
11 May 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant by Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK (Landfill Communities Fund) and East Herts Council of over £13,500, to carry out vital work at Rye Meads Nature Reserve in Hoddesdon.
Luke Shenton, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer for Rye Meads Nature Reserve, said: “The funding means we will be able to make the reserve even better for wildlife. New fences will be built to allow us to graze more of the reserve, making it more diverse. We will cut channels in reedbeds to provide better feeding habitat for rare bitterns and water voles. The channels will also make it easier for visitors to get close-up views of nature.”
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager for the Trust, said: “Grazing meadows is very important to encourage wildflowers that would otherwise be shaded out by taller, faster growing plants. In turn, the flowers attract insects, which provide food for other animals further up the food chain, so grazing is a key part of our conservation programme. We are very pleased that Lafarge and East Herts Council are supporting our work at Rye Meads.”
Richard Millican, Lafarge Southern Restoration Manager, said: "One of Lafarge's main priorities is to operate as responsibly and sustainably as possible and a major element of this is partnership working to protect, promote and enhance biodiversity. We are delighted to support this fantastic project with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust which will improve the habitat at Rye Meads and also enable the local community to get closer to nature."
At the same time Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has just launched an appeal to protect meadowland landscapes like Rye Meads. Across England we have lost 95% since 1940. Fundraising Officer Sarah Mee said: “It’s great that we have secured funding for Ryes Meads. We actually need to raise even more money though, to protect other grassland habitats across Hertfordshire and Middlesex.
“The Love Meadows appeal is aiming to raise £11,000 and we are at nearly £8,000 – we just need a final push to hit our target!”
Read more about the appeal at: www.hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal
Homes for swifts in Stevenage
8 May 2012
Stevenage Homes is providing 25 new homes for endangered birds. Tenants that have recently had work undertaken to their roofs have been given the opportunity to have a nesting box for swifts installed for free.
Roofing contractor Breyer is installing Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust approved boxes as part of their commitment to improving the environment. Swifts traditionally nest in the roofs of homes when they return to the area from Africa every spring.
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager for the Wildlife Trust explains: "The population of swifts has dropped by 40% in the last 15 years because of the loss of breeding sites. Without the help of local people swifts could be extinct within twenty years. The new boxes will replace traditional nesting sites in older buildings that have been lost due to renovation works and modern building methods."
Twenty five Stevenage Homes tenants have agreed for Breyer to install the new nesting boxes, which are maintenance free and do not cause noise or mess problems for householders.
The first to have a swift box installed was Terry Paterson of Walkern Road. He said: "Swifts are the most aerobatic and entertaining of migratory birds. When performing in small flocks their aerial antics and shrill calls are truly fascinating. I’d like to thank Breyer, the Council and the Wildlife Trust for providing a splendid nesting box for swifts at my home."
The boxes have been installed in time for the swifts’ anticipated return in late April. They will spend around four months in Stevenage to breed and raise their young before heading back to Africa. The birds usually return to the same area every year.
Drought hits wildlife
26 March 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is warning that wildlife across the county could be severely affected if the drought continues.
In Hertford/Ware, King’s Meads Nature Reserve is virtually dried up. At Amwell Nature Reserve the water is at 50% of its usual level.
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at the Trust, said: “At this time of year we would expect birds such as lapwing, redshank and little ringed plover to be breeding at the East and West Pools at King’s Meads – they will find conditions very difficult. West Pool normally has around two and a half feet of water in it – it’s totally dry.” Wildfowl such as pochard, shoveler, coot and tufted duck will also be affected.
Drought intensifies chalk stream crisis
26 March 2012
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is warning that the drought will result in stretches of our unique chalk rivers drying out completely with the death of much of the wildlife associated with them. The Trust is launching a new project with the Environment Agency in April, to help tackle the chalk stream crisis.
Hertfordshire’s chalk streams are extremely rare, with only 200 such rivers in the entire world, predominantly in England. These precious habitats are already suffering from over-abstraction: millions of litres of water are taken from our rivers for domestic and commercial use every day.
The drought is compounding the problem. The Rivers Mimram and Beane are dying of thirst and could be lost forever without action to conserve them.
Full news release: Chalk stream crisis
Planning for a sustainable future
14 March 2012
A letter was published in The Times today on what a successful planning system should look like, signed by Chairs of CPRE, Civic Voice, The Heritage Alliance, National Trust, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts. This is in response to the proposed changes to planning policy, in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework, which could threaten wildlife-rich areas across England. You can read the letter in full on The Wildlife Trusts' website here.
Waterford Heath walk
6 March 2012
Meet Reserves Officer Andy Brown to discover the wildlife of Waterford Heath near Hertford on Saturday 17 March, where the Trust is improving habitats for grizzled skipper butterflies with the help of a £50,000 grant from SITA Trust. Join us for a walk!
High speed rail will destroy nature reserve
10 January 2012
The proposed high speed rail route between London and Birmingham which has been given the go ahead by Transport Secretary Justine Greening today will devastate habitats and wildlife in the Denham/Harefield area.
High Speed 2 (HS2) will run through the Colne Valley, ripping through the Trust’s Broadwater Lake Nature Reserve.
The area is home to nationally important numbers of waterbirds, which will suffer significant habitat loss. In addition, Daubenton’s and pipistrelle bats, which are European Protected Species, could be threatened. Broadwater Lake is one of the most important sites in the UK for Daubenton’s bats.