Category Archives: Blog

We’re in the final for the UK River Prize 2018!

**PRESS RELEASE**

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership reaches the final for the prestigious UK River Prize 2018!

Finalists have been announced for the 2018 UK River Prize. This prestigious award celebrates the important work being carried out in the UK to improve our rivers. The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is delighted to be named as a finalist and the winner of the ‘Multiple Benefit Partnership’ category.

The UK River Prize celebrates the achievements of those individuals and organisations working to improve our rivers and catchments, and recognises the benefits to society of having a healthy natural environment.

Administered by the River Restoration Centre and judged by a panel of experts, the overall winner of the UK River Prize for 2018, and recipient of the Nigel Holmes Trophy, will be announced at an Awards Dinner in Nottingham on the 24th April 2018.

There are four project categories to the Award:-Catchment Scale project, Urban River project, Innovation and Multiple Benefit Partnership project. Winners from each category go forward to the Overall UK River Prize.

Tracey Doherty, Wetland Landscape Officer for the Lead Partner, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“We are delighted to announce that the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is the winner of the Multiple Benefit Partnership Category. This is wonderful acknowledgement of all the exciting projects and activities that have been delivered in the Tame Valley Wetlands Nature Improvement Area since September 2014 thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and support from a fantastic volunteer network. Our partners have supported our work and provided valuable match funding to make this scheme a success.

We’re working closely with the Environment Agency, Parish, Borough and County Councils, the local community, farmers, land owners and local volunteers, interest groups and angling clubs to deliver a wide range of projects which will enhance the Tame Valley Wetlands for wildlife and people.

Our large river and wetland habitat projects aim to restore river processes, reconnect floodplains, create wetland habitat which makes space for water in high flow events. Restoring natural processes has a positive effect to water quality which will ultimately benefit the small freshwater invertebrates and fish populations that depend on them. Fish require a variety of habitats at different life stages so making the river more complex and providing refuge areas will support natural recruitment and survival rates.

Our work to manage invasive non-native species such as Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and American mink in the scheme area enhances the riparian habitats even further and will encourage recolonisation of our native plant species and mammals such as water vole which is in severe decline.”

Over the last four years, the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership has so far:

  • improved 1,935 metres of watercourse;
  • created or restored 35 hectares of wetland habitat;
  • restored 1,466 metres of hedgerow through planting and laying;
  • created over 15,500 face-to-face engagements with the public, through school and youth sessions, events and training;
  • held 226 events and training sessions;
  • secured £325,000 of volunteer time and in-kind support from partner organisations;
  • designated 3 sites as Local Wildlife Sites (with more planned this year);
  • created the ‘Gateway to the Tame Valley Wetlands’ Visitor Centre at Kingsbury Water Park;
  • created a long distance footpath ‘The Tame Way’ and various circular walks.

…resulting in an investment of £2.1 million in the Tame Valley Wetlands’ landscape between Birmingham and Tamworth over the last four years, with a significant proportion from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The River Tame is in recovery and the Partnership is focused on delivering further projects which will ensure there is ecological resilience in the River Tame Catchment, supporting our precious wetland wildlife in the future from human pressures such as pollution, flooding, development and climate change.

Tame Valley Wetlands is a Landscape Partnership Scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

*Ends*

TORC lend a hand

If you’ve noticed any extra conservation work going on around Tamworth in the last few months, you may have TORC college to thank.

Tame Valley Wetlands teamed up with TORC college in Tamworth to provide work experience placements for their students, and everyone has reaped the benefits! The students have gained valuable real-life experience in the field, learning about the work of the Tame Valley Wetlands and the Wild about Tamworth project, and getting stuck into conservation tasks. The Wild about Tamworth volunteer groups have gained the man power of the students to help with extra conservation tasks on their sites.

Students have got involved in clearing reed beds at Warwickshire Moor, maintaining the paths at Kettle Brook LNR, and removing scrub and installing a bench at Hodge Lane among other tasks. These tasks have improved biodiversity of the sites, and help to improve access for those who use the site regularly. Pam Clark, a volunteer at Warwickshire Moor, said:

“Thanks to all the young people who came to help. They worked hard for us, and it really is appreciated.”

Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands said: “Work experience such as this can be a valuable asset to young people in college or high school in order to help them develop the skills they need to get a job in future, and also for them to decide what career path to take up. It also has the added benefit of giving something back to their local community.”

To find out more about youth projects in the Tame Valley Wetlands, contact youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk. To find out more, or to volunteer with your local Wild about Tamworth group, visit https://www.tamworth.gov.uk/wild-about-tamworth

Heritage Training Workshops to be held in Warwickshire

Warwickshire County Council in partnership with Tame Valley Wetlands is to hold a series of heritage training workshops over the next few months.

The events are being organised by the County Council’s Historic Environment Record Team and are entirely free to attend. The workshops will help local communities understand and be able to advocate for the heritage and historic environment in their area.

The series of workshops kicks off on 31 January at The Old Market Hall, Coleshill with an event entitled ‘Identifying, understanding and valuing heritage’. The workshop will seek to:

  • Explain the concepts of ‘historic environment’ and why it is important to local community, environment, and economy.
  • Provide guidance on how to obtain and develop an historic environment ‘evidence base’.
  • Provide instruction on how to identify and record the character of locally distinctive urban and rural areas.

Following this, there will be further events held throughout February and March on various different aspects of heritage and the environment.

Councillor Jeff Clarke, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Environment said:

“These workshops are a great way for residents to learn more about their area and how best to protect important parts of Warwickshire’s heritage.

“They’re entirely free for residents to attend and will enable you to get involved in looking after our fantastic county for generations to come”

For more information contact simon.lowe@wkwt.org.uk

To book please visit https://tamevalleywetlands.eventbrite.co.uk/

Christmas Decorations Craft workshop not on this evening

A reminder that the Christmas Decorations Crafts workshop led by the Community Environmental Trust in Castle Vale (shown in our Activity Guide) is not on this evening (21st December 2017) as it was rescheduled to last week instead. We are very sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment caused.

If you’d like an alternative activity then how about decorating your garden with some fallen pine cones instead and give the birds a nice present this Christmas? You can find a ‘how to’ guide on the RSPB website here…

The Tame Valley Wetlands’ Team wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers donate over 7,000 hours since 2015

A team of dedicated volunteers have been improving the landscape of the Tame Valley Wetlands for wildlife and people, totalling 7,009 hours of volunteering since 2015.

“Tameforce” is a group of volunteers carrying out environmental conservation and countryside access work as part of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme. The group started in June 2015, with one volunteer, and 34 more have taken part since then. They have worked at 29 locations in the Tame Valley Wetlands area, from Southfields farm in Coleshill to Warwickshire Moor local nature reserve in Tamworth.

Tameforce volunteers installing a bench in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers installing a bench in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

“The idea behind Tameforce was to support local groups, landowners and local authorities who want to improve the environment or encourage people to enjoy nature, but may not have the capacity to do so.” Rita Gries, Tame Valley Wetlands community and events officer said. “Our volunteers have truly exceeded our expectations. Over the last 2.5 years, they accomplished so much, surpassed all the targets we had set, and kept an upbeat and supportive attitude whatever the weather”

Angella Rodgers, member of Friends of the Lakes, a Tamworth-based community group said “We greatly appreciated the input from the Tameforce volunteers at Stoneydelph lakes. They helped us clear a huge area of invasive brambles, thin trees in the woodland and clear a pathway. The extra manpower meant we were able to complete substantial tasks, but it was also like having a training day. The volunteers were used to doing these tasks and competed them with confidence. We began to see that we also could make a real difference in our volunteering, and we like to think that we carried on the good work.”

Stoneydelph lakes before and after: Orchard at Kettle brook local nature reserve (near Stoneydelph lake) before and after Tameforce volunteers cleared brambles ©Angella Rodgers

Stoneydelph lakes before and after: Orchard at Kettle brook local nature reserve (near Stoneydelph lake) before and after Tameforce volunteers cleared brambles ©Angella Rodgers

For volunteers, Tameforce offers an opportunity to give something back to society, build up skills, keep fit and socialise. Vicky Jorden, a Tameforce volunteer, said: “I enjoy the sense of achievement at the end of the day, when I can see the difference we have made to an area, and enjoy working with a diverse, friendly and interesting team. I have learnt many new practical skills through my volunteering and gained confidence in my physical abilities”

Tameforce volunteers meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and are led by Tame Valley Wetlands staff. They take on many different tasks, such as building nest boxes, planting trees and wildflowers, removing invasive non-native rhododendron and Himalayan balsam, managing woodland and wetland and hedge laying. They have also worked hard to improve access  for all in the Tame Valley Wetlands: clearing vegetation from footpaths, replacing stiles with kissing gates, installing benches and improving way marking. They have helped create four new circular walks, and improved a total of 30km of footpath. Since 2015, Tameforce has also cleared litter off 42 acres of land, the equivalent of 28 football pitches.

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. Those interested in joining Tameforce should email volunteering@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk. The circular walks are downloadable from www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

 

Kettle brook before and after laying woodchip: Path in Kettlebrook local nature reserve (Tamworth), before and after Tameforce volunteers laid woodchip, © Roy Chambers, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Kettle brook before and after laying woodchip: Path in Kettlebrook local nature reserve (Tamworth), before and after Tameforce volunteers laid woodchip, © Roy Chambers, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

the bank of the River Tame arm at Tameside local nature reserve before and after Tameforce volunteers planted wildflowers © Tracey Doherty, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

the bank of the River Tame arm at Tameside local nature reserve before and after Tameforce volunteers planted wildflowers © Tracey Doherty, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers planting a hedge in Castle Vale conservation area (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers planting a hedge in Castle Vale conservation area (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers laying a hedge at Kingsbury Water Park, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers laying a hedge at Kingsbury Water Park, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers putting in fencing at Kingsbury Water Park, © Ebony Chapman, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Tameforce volunteers putting in fencing at Kingsbury Water Park, © Ebony Chapman, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Bench installed by Tameforce volunteers in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Bench installed by Tameforce volunteers in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

 

On your bikes! Pedal-powered Christmas cinema pops up in historic Hall

Don’t miss a unique opportunity to experience a Christmas classic -with an eco-friendly twist- on Saturday 9th December at Middleton Hall, Tamworth.

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) are organising a screening of the well-loved holiday feature the Muppet Christmas Carol. This pop-up cinema will be powered by members of the public, who can jump on one of the six bicycles connected to the projector. The cinema will take place in Middleton Hall’s great hall, a historic Georgian building decorated for the occasion.

Rita Gries, Tame Valley Wetlands LPS community and events officer, said “We are really excited about this year’s Cycle Cinema. Middleton Hall, with its charming decorations, is the perfect setting for this timeless Christmas tale and the bike-powered projector adds a fun, educational twist. With only 70 tickets available, it’ll be an exclusive event, with a cosy atmosphere.”

The screening starts at 5.30pm and will last about two hours. Tickets are £3 for adults and £1 for under-18s and available online at the Tame Valley Wetlands website (www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/christmas-cycle-cinema)

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

New Gnomes and Toy Trains

This is a story of generosity, of kindness and of garden gnomes. You may remember the great ‘Gnome Massacre’ at Echills Wood Railway in Kingsbury Water Park earlier this year, where dozens of gnomes that had been donated over the years were smashed overnight by vandals.

Well, one Tamworth based group decided that they wanted to help. SkillsTank from CareFirst, a group for adults with special needs, bought and handpainted several gnomes with the intention of donating them to the railway in replacement of the damaged population, and this week they were able to donate them in person.

Such an act of generosity gets repaid in kind! When the Echills Wood Railway volunteers heard that SkillsTank were visiting Kingsbury Water Park with their gnomes, they decided to put on a special chartered train ride for the group. After being met and briefed by Railway staff, we were taken round to the new gnome village, where the group were able to give their gnomes a new home next to the railway lines. This was followed by not one, but two, circuits around the Park on the toy trains, put on especially for the SkillsTank group. The friendliness and kindness of the Railway staff was met with vigorous waving all the way round the tracks!

Nicola Lynes, the Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands, said “part of what we try to do within the Tame Valley Wetlands is to connect different groups of people and work together for the benefit of the environment and people who live within the Wetlands.”

The Echills Wood Railway is a miniature railway located in Kingsbury Water Park and runs passenger services on weekends – find out more on their website www.ewr.org.uk

The Tame Valley Wetlands youth engagement programme aims to increase connection between young people and their local natural spaces. For more information, contact Nicola at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

Friends of Tame Valley Wetlands launch meeting

STOP PRESS: Please note, this meeting has been postponed until Monday 16th October at 6.30pm. This is to allow a greater number of people to attend. If you would like to attend this meeting, please contact Rita Gries.

 

The Friends of Tame Valley Wetlands will, going forward, represent the local communities in the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) and feed back to the TVWLP board. It will become the main way local communities are involved, and we are hoping representatives from various locations and community groups will join it.

This first meeting will be an inception meeting for the group. We will share our thoughts about what the remit of the group will be, who to involve, and discuss the terms of reference. There will be no commitment at this stage, so feel free to come along if you are just curious about what this is all about.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP to rita.gries@rspb.org.uk. For directions to our offices, click this link.

Apprentice Blog: Goodbye Tame Valley Wetlands

25.08.17 Today is my last day as a marketing apprentice for the Tame Valley Wetlands.

I have enjoyed every moment of my journey over the last 17 months and I am forever grateful for all the support that I have been given. I have learnt so much by being here and not just to do with marketing either. I have experienced seeing different species of animals for the first time, such as a Kingfisher and Water Voles. I have discovered about the flow of a river and how it can be slowed down by islands and sped up by being canalised. I have explored many of the nature reserves in the Tame Valley Wetlands that I never knew existed before. I have met some of the most inspirational and amazing people, all who have helped or are helping to protect and conserve the Tame Valley. I have enjoyed a variety of events that have been hosted either by the scheme or partners. I have gained knowledge and skill in photography through courses, so that I can enjoy my passion for taking photos better. I have grown in confidence through helping out on events and working with youth groups from schools and organisations across the Tame Valley Wetlands.

None of this would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for the Tame Valley Wetlands team, who have pushed my to strive for my best, who have continuously praised me and made me feel a part of the team, who have told me that I can do anything I set my mind to and who have given me the opportunity to excel in such a wonderful environment. There are really not enough words to describe how amazing my time here has been and I am truly sad to leave but I am also very ready for my next challenge and to better myself and my skills in a different work sector.

Below is a quick video that I have made to show off my favourite moments over the last 17 months. Thank you to all who I have had the pleasure of meeting!