Category Archives: Featured

The Tame Valley Wetlands Scheme – Our Achievements

The wetlands of the Tame Valley, located along a 20km stretch of the River Tame between Coleshill and Tamworth, offer a wonderful hidden landscape for people and wildlife.

The last century has seen huge impacts on the river and its floodplain due to pollution, sand and gravel extraction and fragmentation from development and transport routes.

In the past twenty years, the value of this area as a cohesive landscape has started to be recognised. In 2005, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust set up the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership and has championed action to strengthen the resilience of the area through the creation of bigger, better and more joined up habitats and by reconnecting local people with these natural assets that are so important for society.

Tame Valley Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park © C.Harris (WWT)

Since then, the Partnership has grown and strengthened. On behalf of the Partnership, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust secured £1.8 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013 to develop and deliver a landscape partnership scheme with the vision of ‘creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all’.

As we near the end of this funding, here are the headlines achievements from the last four years:

  • Over £2.5 million has been invested in the landscape.
  • The Trust and Partnership won the prestigious UK River Prize 2018 ‘Best Multiple Benefit Partnership Project’ category.
  • The area has been designated as Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull’s first Nature Improvement Area (NIA).
  • 23,500 volunteer hours have been donated and we’ve captured some really interesting local memories.
  • There have been over 110,000 page views of the Tame Valley Wetlands website and a Facebook total reach of nearly 450,000. We also reached an audience of 6.3 million people when we featured on BBC Countryfile!
  • 1,949 metres of hedgerow have been created or restored.

    Hedgelaying with volunteers © S.Lowe (WWT)

  • Over 2km of watercourse have been restored or enhanced, and 35 hectares of wetland habitat have been created or restored.

    River Tame re-profiling at Kingsbury Water Park © T.Haselden (WWT)

  • Nearly 300 school and youth sessions have been delivered, engaging with over 5,000 children and young people.

    Scarecrow event © R.Gries (WWT)

  • Over 240 events and training sessions have been run, with over 10,000 participants
    21 people have received a City & Guilds or Open College Network training accreditation, with a total of 3,088 guided learning hours. 40 young people have also received the John Muir Award.

    Live Willow Weaving at Lea Marston © Rita Gries (WWT)

  • 1 full-time, 18 month marketing apprenticeship has been completed, leading to the participant finding a full-time permanent job in the sector.
  • Over 6km of footpath have been improved and 74km made more accessible through the creation and promotion of 10 new circular trails.

    Finger post on the B’ham & Fazeley Canal © D.Jones (WWT)

  • A new brand and website has been established; a variety of new interpretation and films have been created; and a new ‘Gateway to the Tame Valley Wetlands’ visitor centre at Kingsbury Water Park has been created, with over 75,000 visitors.

    New interpretation at Kingsbury Water Park Visitor Centre © C.Harris (WWT)

But, that isn’t all!..

The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled us to deliver great outcomes for wildlife, people and heritage. It has also made us stronger as a partnership, with 24 organisations all working together towards our new shared 2030 vision.

‘Looking into the future’ (Farm wildlife event) © Rita Gries (WWT)

We have been working hard to make our presence in the area sustainable and a team of 5 members of staff plus our fantastic volunteers, hosted by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, will continue into 2019 and beyond.

Now, more than ever, partnership working at a landscape-scale is vital if we are to protect our wildlife and heritage, turn threats into opportunities, and build on the exciting momentum that we’ve created over the last few years.

A huge thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, our other funders, partners, volunteers, the delivery team and the local community for making the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme such a success!

To find out more about our work over the last four years, watch our documentary film below!

Tame Fish (Part 2)

Here’s another dreamy, relaxing video of fish on the River Tame.

In 2016, Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership led a project to recreate a back channel and reinstate an island feature at Tameside LNR, Tamworth, Staffordshire.

The back channel was created to serve as a fish refuge for small fish and fry, giving them a place that they could shelter, feed and grow within the dynamic River Tame environment.  Within the first summer, instream vegetation grew within the channel, offering ideal habitat for our target fish.

The presence of different species of fish in the River Tame is a good sign that the quality of the water has improved – it now provides a habitat suitable for sustaining fish populations.

Two years on and the banks have established wonderful riparian plants, suitable for water vole, should they return! The in channel vegetation is both submerged and emergent, which is great shelter for fish.

Our film evidences that minnow, gudgeon and fish fry are present within the refuge.  A job well done for securing an essential environment to support natural recruitment of freshwater fish in our big river systems.

 

The River Tame as you have never seen it before

Tame Valley Wetlands is excited to share with you the first of a few short videos filmed underwater in our fabulous rivers.

We have been working with Jack Perks who has perfected the art of underwater filming and we are truly thrilled with the results.

Our first clip was filmed on 25th September 2018 at three points within the River Tame at Kingsbury where we carried out river restoration work in 2014.

We have filmed a variety of different species of fish present in the River Tame.

The River Tame was once dead to life.  Decades of work to improve water quality and improve river habitat are helping the river recover to its former glory, with grayling being caught by anglers in recent years.

The film shows different age classes of fish and certainly points to a productive fishery, supporting natural recruitment.

The short film is both fascinating to watch the behaviour of fish but also is very relaxing.

Dive in and watch the video.  Look out for the pike!

Balsam meets its match at Church Pool Covert!

Tameforce volunteers have installed 80m2 of pre planted coir pallets to transform a forgotten stream in Church Pool Covert at our Hams Hall office.

We have worked with volunteer groups this year, to clear Himalayan balsam from the wooded site where the invasive plant has dominated the area.  We have then reinstated native species to improve biodiversity value and help prevent soil loss in flood events.  This is part of our ‘Balsam meets its match’ project funded by Banister Charitable Trust where we are working with our partners to improve a number of sites with the Tame Valley Wetlands.

Yesterday, our Tameforce volunteers prepared a 400m2 area ready for grass seeding using species which are happy in shaded and wetland environments.

We then installed 80m2 of preplanted coir pallets along a 20m length of stream.  The coir pallets 2m x 1m in size and are like a planted rug.  The pallet is made from coconut fibre which will degrade over time, giving the plants the chance to establish the root system in the bank while also providing some erosion protection of the soil, preventing the soil being washed away in the winter into the river system, which degrades water quality.

Take a look at these awesome before and after photographs.

 

 

 

Working together in the Tame Valley Wetlands – celebrating our achievements!

Nearly one hundred volunteers and representatives from local groups and organisations on the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership came together to celebrate the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme on Tuesday 17th July 2018.

The evening event took place at Drayton Manor Park Hotel near Tamworth and celebrated the successes of working together in partnership for the benefit of the natural environment, heritage and people in the Tame Valley Wetlands – a unique, watery landscape between Birmingham and Tamworth.  The Partnership also presented its future vision and plans for the area.

Delivery staff talked about their top highlights and there were displays from partner organisations.  A film summarising the scheme’s achievements was also premiered, which will be launched online in August.  Volunteers and staff were thanked for their hard work and support and two individuals received a special award in recognition of their long-standing dedication and commitment to improving the environment of the Tame Valley Wetlands.

Andrew Crawford is the Biodiversity Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency and has worked tirelessly to improve the River Tame and its tributaries for over 30 years. Andrew has led and advised on many river restoration projects and has seen the transformation of the river over the decades – from one that was so polluted it sustained no life at all, to a thriving watercourse home to wildlife such as grayling and otter.

Maurice Arnold is a local naturalist with extensive knowledge of natural and local history.  Maurice was a founder member of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and has been an active local wildlife recorder and surveyor for over 60 years, in particular carrying out fritillary counts on Broad Meadow Local Nature Reserve in Tamworth since the 1950s.  This has provided vital data to protect these important sites and inform current and future management.

Celebration Event on 17 July 2018 at Drayton Manor Park Hotel © Tim Haselden (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust)

Tim Haselden, Tame Valley Wetlands Scheme Manager said:

“We are delighted to be able to present a special award to Andrew Crawford and Maurice Arnold for their outstanding service to the Tame Valley Wetlands over so many years. We would also like to thank everyone who has volunteered and worked on the scheme over the last four years – none of this would have been possible without their amazing help and support, and the vital funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, our partners and other funders.

The Partnership was established back in 2005 and we plan to build on the successes of the last few years with an ambitious 2030 vision, focussed on continuing to enhance the environment and connecting people with their landscape.  We also plan to develop the area as a green tourist destination and work with planners and developers to protect and enhance the environment where possible for both people and wildlife.

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 wildlife and habitats in the face of human pressures such as pollution, flooding, development and climate change.”

The evening was rounded off by a positive speech from Alan Taylor, National Heritage Lottery Fund Committee Member for the West Midlands.  The National Heritage Lottery Fund has been the primary funder of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, investing £1.8 million since 2013. This will result in investment in the Tame Valley Wetlands’ landscape of £2.5 million by the end of 2018.

Amongst the successes of the past few years, the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust were named as a finalist for the UK River Prize 2018 and the winner of the ‘Multiple Benefit Partnership’ category.

Over the last four years, the scheme has:

  • 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 230 events and training sessions;
  • secured over £325,000 of volunteer time and in-kind support from partner organisations;
  • designated 3 sites as Local Wildlife Sites and the landscape as a Nature Improvement Area;
  • 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.

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

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

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Notes for Editors:

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) has a vision of creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. There are 23 organisations on the Partnership and the Board consists of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (Lead Partner), the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, Natural England, North Warwickshire Borough Council, the RSPB, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Tamworth Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council.

The Tame Valley Wetlands (Landscape Partnership) Scheme will be delivered by the TVWLP between 2014 and 2018. The Partnership will receive £1.7 million funding from the National Lottery through the National Heritage Lottery Fund (plus £100K development funding in 2013), enabling a £2.5 million scheme to be delivered, which aims to restore built and natural heritage and reconnect local people with their landscape. The scheme covers a 104 km² area of the Tame Valley Wetlands between Birmingham and Tamworth, in North Warwickshire and south-east Staffordshire.

Work will focus on conserving and enhancing approximately 50 hectares of river and wetland habitat and restoring two Grade II listed structures on the canal network. The scheme includes the development of the Tame Way – linking, enhancing and promoting a network of footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes between Birmingham and Tamworth. Plans are also in place for a new interpretation centre at Kingsbury Water Park and an interactive website and phone app, providing easily accessible information and resources to help people explore and discover the Tame Valley Wetlands.

The initiative will also provide volunteering and training opportunities for local people and support groups working to look after their local area. A series of events and activities will also be delivered, with the aim of engaging with hundreds of school children, young people and members of the public. Informal training will be provided through taster days, with the chance for people to learn new skills and improve their CVs through more formal, accredited training programmes.

Wetlands provide a vital role in reducing flooding and improving water quality, whilst their biodiversity-rich habitats also provide an important home for wildlife and a place for sensitive recreation and relaxation. The Tame Valley Wetlands are a ‘blue lung’ in an area of the country otherwise dominated by transport routes and development. For more information, visit www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) is the lead partner on the TVWLP. The Trust is the largest local conservation charity working across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. Their main purpose is to promote the interests of wildlife, wild places and the natural environment for the wider benefit of society, people and local communities. They promote a better natural environment for local wildlife and local people as part of the aim to create a Living Landscape in the West Midlands where wildlife and local people can live and thrive together. WWT manages 65 nature reserves, covering over 800 hectares and is a voluntary membership organisation supported by more than 23,000 individual members, over 20 corporate members and over 700 volunteers. For more information, visit www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF). Using money raised through the National Lottery, the National Heritage Lottery Fund aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, they invest in every part of our diverse heritage. NHLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK. For more information, visit www.hlf.org.uk.

Sand Martins move into the Community Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park

Exciting news! Sand martins have moved into the sand martin hotel at Kingsbury Water Park’s, Community Wetlands.

The sand martin hotel was built in January 2017 and features 51 nest hole entrances.  It was planted up during the spring and was featured on Countryfile in April 2017 as pupils from Kingsbury School, volunteers from Friends of Kingsbury Water Park and Country Park Rangers, installed pre-planted coir rolls and pallets around the base of the moated feature.

Tracey Doherty, Wetland Landscape Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership said “This is great news.  We were thrilled to learn this week that our feathered friends have moved in with approximately 20 of the nest holes being used.  Sand martins like to nest in river banks along the Valley.  Summer flood events are getting more common and the nature of the River Tame is such that, the nest burrows will quickly get flooded during the critical breeding bird season.  We designed an artificial nest site which mimicked the aspects of natural nest sites in the river corridor but then ensured that the nesting area was above the level of the highest flood.    It’s a wonderful asset for the Tame Valley corridor and a much needed safe nesting site.  They are likely to return to this site next year, now they have found it”.

 

Himalayan Balsam meets its match!

Himalayan balsam is meeting its match right now in the Tame Valley Wetlands scheme area thanks to the support from Banister Charitable Trust!

This important funding is enabling us to work with our partners to tackle this highly invasive non-native species using a combination of people power and rust fungus!

Photo above shows a dominated river bank with flowering Himalayan balsam at Whitacre Heath SSSI

Our project aims to create an exemplar of best practice on how to finally address the challenge of Himalayan balsam at a number of sites in the Tame Valley through a combination of:-

  1. Working with volunteers to manage Himalayan balsam through easy practical methods (bashing / strimming / pulling) that everyone can do which can be easily maintained for at least 2-3 years.
  2. reinstate native plant species which help bind the soil which will prevent it being washed away during winter flood events and also prevents nutrients entering rivers, degrading habitat and causing silts to cover important fish spawning gravels.
  3. Improving biodiversity value of a site as native plant species are more beneficial to a wider range of pollinating insects who also benefit from a longer flowering season with a variety of flowers and grasses compared to a balsam dominated monoculture which shades out native species.
  4. Work with CABI scientists to introduce a biocontrol to help manage Himalayan balsam at a landscape scale with a ‘species specific’ rust fungus that has been given Government approval for release after 10 years of research and consultation.  It will not eradicate Himalayan balsam but will make it easier to manage, being one of a variety of plants on a site, instead of the dominant species we have now.
  5. Be proactive and improve awareness of non native species in the scheme area, provide useful resources and highlight the importance of biosecurity ‘Check Clean Dry’ to prevent the spread of them.  It’s as simple as cleaning the soles of your shoes properly to prevent seeds being transferred to another site!
  6. Create a lasting legacy in the Tame Valley Wetlands on good practice.

Watch this space!

If you want to learn more, get advice or get involved with our non native species control project then email enquiries@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.

 

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