Posted on 20 July, 2017Comments (0)

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Trees and Protection: Although one mature Oak has been saved at the top of Blackberry Lane in Four Marks, and now has a TPO, the arboricultural officer did not have time to reach another landmark tree, a mature Monkey Puzzle in a garden at Bernard Avenue, and it was felled in June.

Another protected mature Oak in the hedgerow bordering the football pitch belonging to Four Marks Parish Council, was inappropriately cut back last Summer on the instructions of the developer at Medstead Farm. Fortunately, only a small amount of live tissue was removed, damage was minimal and they were reprimanded by the council.

Anyone unsure whether a tree is protected should contact the arboricultural officer responsible for their area at EHDC, or check information online, for advice before doing any work to a tree that might be protected, or in a conservation area. Additionally, it should be noted that only 1.5m can be cut down without a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. They state that it is an offence to fell trees without a licence when one is required. Unauthorised work to any tree/s could result in prosecution, so if in doubt it is advisable to check first!

Trees and wildlife: Additionally, it is important to note that many mature trees support a large amount of wildlife, including protected species, e.g. Bats, Owls and some Beetles, and at this time of year nesting birds could also be present. We are often contacted by residents to tell us that a tree, or group of trees, have been cut down. It is important to make contact before, rather than after the event. Sadly trees in Lymington Bottom and at the Old Dairy were all cut down a few years ago, and it is likely that Bats were compromised.

However, if residents see a tree or a hedge being cut down and are unsure whether wildlife, bats or nesting birds could be compromised, the work can be halted almost immediately by calling the Police. If the landowner owns the tree, he will need to have it checked by an ecologist before proceeding with the work. If the tree is on a verge belonging to Highways no one should be cutting it back or felling it!

Highway Trees: All trees on verges are all the property of Highways. In fact, they also own most of the verges in our villages! RVEIs (Road Verges of Ecological Importance) are protected, and signage can be seen on these verges, together with information for rare orchids, provided by ecologist, Nicky Court, at Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre.

Protected RVEIs: These verges are now cut once a year in April only. Our rare orchids then have time to flower, and develop seed pods which burst open between October and November. The very fine seed will disperse on the wind, and hopefully germinate again the following Spring. These verges should never be cut again after April, or the orchids cannot survive. They will gradually disappear, and be lost to future generations. If removed, dug up or ‘translocated’, they will not survive either as they are symbiotic with Mycorrhizal fungus in the soil. Consequently the best specimens are often found in woodland gardens, usually beneath Oak or Beech.

Gilbert White’s House Museum: Following the Nature Festival, we have done more interesting and exciting work with GWHM. We have the same aims, to bring more people through their doors to
learn about wildlife and the natural world, and then out into the open countryside to explore and
experience it for themselves. This is particularly important for families with young children.

Wildflower Meadow: After meeting up with Amanda Pagett (Visitor Services Officer) and Emily Harker (Education), I was asked to return to spend an afternoon in their wildflower meadow to look at orchids. I spotted several Pyramidal Orchids and a large number of butterflies.

I find the best way to look at butterflies is to lie on a waterproof jacket on the ground, so they fly over and around you, and I recommend that parents do this with their children. It is important to lie still as Ringlet Butterfly butterflies can sense sound and movement.

I noted the Ringlet, the Meadow Brown and another butterfly I thought looked familiar. I thought it might be the Marbled White, but turned out to be the Grizzled Skipper, a priority species for conservation due to loss of habitat. It is a very accomplished flyer with the ability to change direction in an instant, so impossible to photograph. This butterfly has also been seen in Four Marks this Summer, in a meadow off Telegraph Lane.

The Summer meadow at Gilbert White’s was however a sad reminder of the Medstead Farm site prior to development, where more butterfly species were noted in the 2010/11 wildlife survey than anywhere else in Four Marks! Hopefully when the hedges are eventually replanted and infilled, we will see them again. Fortunately, Tom’s field in Wantage was saved from development last year due to an excellent campaign fought by residents. It was the last green field in the village as all farmland in the area is due to be developed, and a 1500 home estate is planned. I returned last month to look at the meadow and observed butterflies and some magnificent Bumblebees on Lavender.

First Aid Training: In June I mentioned ‘ticks’ and the importance of covering up and wearing appropriate clothing when walking in the countryside. I have also found it invaluable to do some basic first aid training. This can be done with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, St. Johns Ambulance, or the Royal Life Saving Society. The course I took covered saving a baby’s life, and how to resuscitate small children if choking or inert. Invaluable for me as I often work with young children, and now a grandmother myself!

Diana Tennyson

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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