Posted on 30 April, 2017Comments (0)
Wildlife Support and Conservation
Last month I wrote about Bat species, but at that time we had no pictures. Thanks to Fabio Perselli at Friars Oak, Medstead, we have a lovely picture of a Common Pipistrelle Bat discovered in the loft.
They are very small weighing around 5 grams, about the same as a 20p coin, but they can consume over 3,000 insects in one night! It is important to note that Bats are a protected species.
Hampshire Bat Group: Anyone wishing to join the Hampshire Bat Group, part of the Bat Conservation Trust, and become more involved with monitoring and recording Bats in the area, can find details on their website, www.hampshirebatgroup.org.uk . Information and pictures are also available for Bat species, ways of attracting Bats to gardens and creating suitable habitats for Bats. Residents may wish to set up a Bat box and can find instructions here for making one. Information can also be found on the website for injured Bats.
Children’s Art Competition: (Details in last month’s issue). Copies of the winning entries will be displayed at Gilbert White’s Museum on 27th May during the Nature Festival and Bioblitz. There will also be a ‘Bat Display’.
Sheep Worrying: At this time of year it is always important to mention taking care when walking dogs in the countryside, especially near flocks of sheep, cattle or Alpacas. Many pregnant ewes perished at West Dean Farm in Sussex last year. Spring is the worst time for sheep worrying as ewes have often recently given birth, and are usually turned out to grass with their lambs. Young animals may look delightful but should not be approached.
They are extremely vulnerable and can die from shock although many are unfortunately savaged by other animals running loose. I now avoid walking my dog in fields where any farm animals or birds are present.
Wild birds and fledglings: May and June are the months when many fledglings will have hatched and are ready to leave the nest to try their wings. They might appear to be sitting or hopping about on the ground. The RSPB encourage us all not to overreact. The parents are usually close by waiting to feed the bird, so walk away unless it appears to be in danger. If you discover any injured bird or animal, please contact Hart Wildlife, our local wildlife hospital before making your delivery. Details on their website: www.hartwildlife.org.uk.
It is important to note that they are only able to deal with wild birds and animals, and not farm or domestic species.
Proximity of trees to dwellings: This is likely to be an issue with new developments in particular, but several instances of mature trees affecting properties and gardens locally have been reported. Protected Oak trees close to new houses and with canopies overshadowing gardens on the Medstead Farm estate (Four Marks) have resulted in some branches being cut back.
Action had to be taken as live tissue as well as dead branches had been pruned back from one tree last year. In April this year a mature Oak was felled in Blackberry Lane. A property had been built close to the tree and as it grew, the canopy covered a large section of the roof. The owner arranged to prune it, but unfortunately the tree was diseased and ultimately had to be felled.
Gloucester Close (Four Marks): Some properties on a new development here also have very small gardens in comparison to the size of the dwellings, and are sited very close to wildlife hedgerows and corridors, and protected, mature trees. Some wildlife hedgerows and trees also back onto the SINC (site of importance for nature conservation) and important for Dormice, off Lapwing Way.
Properties close to mature trees: Of course, one might reasonably assume that anyone viewing properties on a new development should look carefully at any wildlife areas which may impact their families, lifestyle, gardens and properties before making a purchase.
However, the owner of a new property may not be aware of the impact of a mature tree close by until the family take up residence, and by then it is too late. Additionally, we have noticed that many new residents arrange to purchase properties when they come onto the market at the beginning of the year. It is not until the tree or wildlife corridor ‘springs into life’ in March/April that they become aware of the amount of wildlife, wild birds, insects, etc., in trees and branches overhanging their properties, not to mention the amount of shade cast over some gardens.
Trees and Wildlife Corridors: We spend a great deal of time encouraging new residents to embrace wildlife in trees and hedgerows close to their homes, and prevent encroachment into wildlife corridors, green buffers, etc. Wildlife corridors are often also referred to as ‘Badger runs’. Badgers are nocturnal, so will not be seen during daylight hours. Wildlife corridors are set in place around some developments for all wildlife, and should not be blocked with garden pots, rubbish or other garden waste. Dumping any waste matter into a wildlife corridor, onto a footpath, or on land that is not owned by the person disposing of the waste, is fly tipping.
Saving our Ancient Trees: The Woodland Trust are asking us to sign a Tree Charter in order to protect our ancient woods and trees, also very important habitats for wild birds and animals. A new ‘luxury’ nest has been built for Ospreys at Lock Akaid Pine Forest, and they will hopefully return from Africa shortly to take up residence. Trees are also important for our Bat populations.
Tree Planting: We note that although Scotland has a sustainable tree planting programme, there is concern for deforestation in other parts of the UK. Apparently this is due to the amount of time for permission to be granted by three government agencies involved. It might be more helpful if the Forestry Commission could deal with this so that important projects for tree planting are not unnecessarily delayed.
Tree packs are available for schools or community projects on the Woodland Trust website. Over 380,000 trees are being delivered to schools and community groups this year, including saplings suitable for hedgerows, or a copse. (Check their website: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk for details). Chawton Primary School tell us they have a very exciting project this year to plant 200 trees.
Planning and Wildlife Mitigation: From discussions and correspondence with representatives at Natural England, ecologists and other wildlife experts, there is no doubt in my mind that some aspects of planning law require an overhaul, particularly in relation to space for protected trees and hedgerows, wildlife corridors, protected species and licences for same. Some suggestions put forward for wildlife mitigation, although commendable, are simply not practical or acceptable, in particular for EPS Dormice.
We continue research on Dormouse bridges in Hampshire and nationally, and have now come to the conclusion that they should not be considered for future developments until a more acceptable design has been proven to be suitable and sustainable. With this in mind, we will be looking more closely at the prototype at the SSSI site on the IOW, in coming months.
Guidelines for Developments: In the meantime, information via the following link from Leeds County Council might be helpful, http://www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Landscape-Planning-and-Development.aspx. Check Planning, and Your Council, and follow the link for Natural, Builtand Historic Environment, where plenty of information can be found for ‘Landscape, Planning and Development’. We can also find guideline distances from development to trees, and securing space for existing and new trees.
LCC produced a document, ‘Space About Dwellings’ back in 1989. The ‘objective in producing the document was to ensure that Site Planning and Design would allow sufficient space to be provided in layouts to satisfy both the needs of trees and those future occupiers. Not only did the guidelines apply to existing trees, but also to new tree planting’.
The document also covers, ‘Climate Change and The Case for Trees’, and importantly, ‘Building for Tomorrow Today’, and ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’. There are pictures of trees with a ‘poor relationship’ with dwellings, as well as those with ‘better relationships’, with some shade, but also usable gardens, etc. They also provide a very helpful ‘Dimensions Table’ for tree species and recommended distances between trees and development. This data might be useful for anyone thinking about buying a property with a tree in the garden, or planting a tree in their garden.
Wild Flowers: May and June are the best times for looking at wild flowers in our spectacular Hampshire countryside. Swathes of Snowdrops in Medstead Cemetery have been replaced by wild Daffodils, and Celandines (often known as the Lesser Celandine or pilewort, Ficaria Verna) look wonderful on our verges and in our woodlands. Primroses often flower well into May in shady areas.
If residents think they have wild orchids on their verges or in their gardens, do let us know and we will come and identify them!
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]