Last August we began working in the walled garden. Tucked away behind the Museum in the Park, this secret space has been abandoned for many years now. Our work there is the first stage in a process that will gradually see the garden returned to a beautiful and functional space.
The team of volunteers from Stroud Valleys Project and the museum has been steadily uncovering ground that has lain buried beneath brambles, elder, sycamore saplings and nettles since the end of the last century.
This project will manage seven greenspaces in Stroud and Cainscross. It will contribute to the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan by working on seven urban habitats, two ponds, seven priority BAP species and one protected species. All the sites are easily accessible, and well used by the local community.
We will organise habitat management workshops and wildlife surveys to continue to improve the habitats and to create new ones, as well as increasing the biodiversity of the sites in order to gain a better understanding of resident wildlife. We will promote wildlife gardening and pond building in these areas in order to increase environmental and conservation awareness.
Although this project was not directly funded during the year we have, through numerous donations from charitable trusts, been able to continue biodiversity work in the area through regular volunteer work days and maintain some momentum. Partnerships with farmers and landowners have continued and we have undertaken work on hedgerows and ponds, working towards our long-term goal of more and better wildlife corridors across the Severn Vale.
In 2009, SVP won funding from Defra to survey 45 randomly selected hedgerows across the Severn Vale, in line with Defra’s Hedgerow Survey Handbook (2nd Edition). The aim of the survey was to collect information important to wildlife that inhabits hedgerows and the biodiversity which they support, to feed in to Defra’s National Hedgerow Survey Database. Although the sample size of the 2009 survey was small in relation to the Severn Vale as a geographical area (some 40 sq km) the survey was in some depth and looked at features such as tree species, composition of the hedgerow, wildflowers at the base of the hedge, the hedgerow's dimensions and management cycle.
The 2009 survey not only marked the first time that this type of survey had been undertaken in the Severn Vale or Gloucestershire, it was also an interesting learning curve and benchmark that SVP set itself having become the lead partner for Hedgerows in the county, which in turn followed involvement with Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan (GBAP) steering group meetings.
In total 107 volunteer days were spent on the project, a great achievement for SVP and all the volunteers involved; without this valuable contribution from volunteers, meeting the funder’s deadlines would have been much more challenging.
As part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations we wanted to celebrate the wide variety of wild plants we get in the Stroud District. Gloucestershire Naturalists Trust sponsored us in this work, which was to gather together all the people whose work had an impact on wildflowers.
If you are involved in this work and are not featured here, please get in touch.
Milk Wort - copyright I Szaboova
Gloucestershire Naturalists' Society
Frampton Aggregates and Biodiversity is helping to reduce the impacts of aggregates extraction by restoring and creating traditional landscape features, biodiversity habitats, and wildlife corridors lost to extraction over time. The project will take place on land close to a gravel extraction site around the village of Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire, and will run until March 2011.
The work will include the creation and restoration of ponds and scrapes, hedges and hedgerow trees, orchards, and the planting of new in-field trees to safeguard the existence of old trees for the future. Through surveying work, the project will identify important priority habitats or species in the Severn Vale, such as wet grassland, ancient hedgerows, and Great Crested Newts.
Footpaths will see improvements through better stiles and kissing gates, and there will be walks to show the public where these improvements have taken place. Educational events together with working with local schools will raise the awareness of our beautiful local biodiversity.
Hawkwood College approached SVP for assistance with managing their beech woodland, an important Cotswold escarpment habitat. Volunteers learned about managing woodland and techniques for felling smaller trees as well as creating habitats for insects and small mammals through stacking habitat wood piles.
We are now in our sixth year of working with Adult Education in Gloucestershire. For a number of years we have taken an integrated approach to this – offering courses in practical conservation to students at Ruskin Mill College and clients at Park House (day centre for people experiencing mental health difficulties). The work undertaken on these courses directly contributes to our biodiversity targets, meaning that we can offer exciting opportunities for these learners to make a real practical difference while learning in safe and supportive groups, and at their own pace. During this year, we have added similar courses for The Nelson Trust, a locally based charity which works with people with substance misuse problems. All three of these groups are given the time and support needed to help them learn new skills and take responsibility for their work. This leads to increased confidence and self-esteem, which in turn contributes to achieving individual personal, social and educational goals.
FLLN (Family Learning Literacy and Numeracy) courses have become a feature of our contract with Adult Education in Gloucestershire. Our Go Wild! courses are aimed at adults with basic skills needs and their families, and introduce literacy and numeracy through wildlife themes and activities. During 2008 we ran these courses extremely successfully at Cashes Green and Cam Everlands primary schools. We are delighted that seven adults from the Cam Everlands course gained the confidence to go on to attend literacy and numeracy courses in conjunction with Stroud College, leading to level 1 or 2 qualifications. As a new venue for these courses, Cashes Green attracted fewer families, but the courses were popular and enjoyed by those who took part which provides a good basis for rolling out future courses at the school.
Adult Education also supported a repeat of our “Wild Resolutions” courses as part of the Family Learning Festival for 2008. These courses of three sessions of two hours aim to explore ways of living in a more sustainable way, and provide families with ideas on what they can do themselves, even on a tight budget. Subjects included wildlife gardening, composting and recycling – and by the end of the courses participants showed positive changes in their attitudes and behaviour. This year the courses took place at Cashes Green Primary School and Parliament Children’s Centre and have offered a good means of recruitment for FLLN courses planned for the coming year.