Category Archives: Featured

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

 

Pathway improvements at Borrowpit Lake

Tame Valley Wetlands are extremely grateful for help by six volunteers from Keir Services (Area 9) who transformed a dark, enclosed pathway to be more open and accessible at Borrowpit Lake, Tamworth.

  • The guys start to remove the willow dome den that is a hub of anti social mischief. Removing this will help make the area safer.
  • The girls remove the blackthorn scrub encroachment, opening up the pathway and making it more accessible and feeling safer by improving the sight lines
  • Streetscene came out to chip all the vegetation which can be used as landscaping material in the Borough
  • The Environmental team from Keir Services who manage Area 9 for Highways England.

The environmental team worked hard all day to clear vegetation near Borrowpit Lake and the Snowdome to help define a pathway and create a safer space for walkers around the lakeside. Their hard work was immediately recognised by passers by who welcomed the work and said what a difference it made.

Partners in our Borrowpit Lake project, Tamworth Borough Council and The Lamb Angling Club came out to see the work and thank the group.

We are also extremely grateful for support from Tamworth Borough Council, whose Streetscene team chipped the arisings and removed three large bags of rubbish from the site.  The  wood chippings can be reused as landscaping material.

Take a look at some of the before and after photos.

 

 

Curdworth hedge receives heritage makeover

If you have driven along the Kingsbury Road through Curdworth village you may have noticed some work happening at the King George V Playing Fields.

We are working in partnership with Curdworth Parish Council to give the hedgerow alongside the playing field car park a heritage makeover with the ancient skill of hedge laying.

The work should be complete by the end of October 2017. This work is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Here are some before and after photos.

Himalayan balsam meets its match!

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is working with CABI scientists and Partners to introduce a new control method for Himalayan balsam, a non-native plant species that is negatively impacting the river corridor and its associated wetland habitats.

Non-native invasive species cost millions of pounds each year to control. Their negative effect on our native wildlife and habitats is of deep concern to conservation groups.  One such plant is Himalayan balsam.  In 2003, the Environment Agency estimated it would cost £300 million to eradicate completely; since then, the weed has continued to invade new areas.

Introduced to the UK in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant, its spread to the wider environment has negatively affected rivers, floodplains, connected ditches and waterbodies.  The plant efficiently spreads through seed dispersal, with each plant producing upto 2500 seeds that are released and catapulted to a distance of upto seven metres.  It is then widely spread through rivers and flood events, colonising river banks and connected wetland to create dense stands of plants.

In 2006, CABI scientists were commissioned by the Environment Agency, DEFRA and the Scottish Government to find a reliable and efficient biological control method for Himalayan balsam. Field visits to the Himalayan foothills of India and Pakistan identified a number of natural enemies that were tested as potential biological control agents for the weed.  Most of these agents were later ruled out, buta highly specific rust fungal plant pathogen, which lives its whole life cycle on Himalayan Balsam, was found to offer the best control solution.

The Tame Valley Wetlands area is now benefiting from over 10 years of CABI research, public consultation and associated field trials by introducing the rust fungus on to Himalayan balsam in the Tame Catchment area. If successful, the rust will help decrease the impact of the weed.

Tracey Doherty, Wetland Landscape Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands said “100,000’s of volunteer hours are spent controlling Himalayan balsam along our rivers and floodplains in the UK.  There are many negative effects of this plant on the environment, namely the monoculture that it creates. These tall 10-12ft plants with large leaves shade out our native plant species and also reduce the beneficial fungi that live in the soil that our native plants need but balsam doesn’t.  Its shallow root system does not help with soil retention, contributing to erosion and aiding sedimentation pathways into our rivers and streams that negatively affect water quality, fish and invertebrate populations. Biodiversity is reduced in these Himalayan balsam dominated sites.  Less species use the plant, although some pollinators do have a benefit when in flower.  An effective, plant specific rust fungus which has undergone consultation process and rigorous testing is a valuable tool to combat the spread and aid control of this invasive plant. The rust fungus will not eradicate Himalayan balsam completely from our landscape but it will make it more manageable, by being one of a number of plants along a water course instead of creating a monoculture, having more negative effects on our environment, than positive.  This means pollinators will still be able to use the plant but more importantly, they will be able to feed and pollinate our native plant species instead.  We are grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund and our Partners for supporting this pioneering work that will be monitored over the coming years.”

Carol Ellison, Senior Plant Pathologist, Invasive Species Management at CABI said “Invasive plants that have been introduced into a new area usually arrive without the natural enemies, such as insects and diseases, which keep them from dominating in their native habitats.  Biological control aims to redress this imbalance by introducing damaging, coevolved natural enemies into the invasive range, to achieve sustainable suppression of the weed.  This approach, although new to Europe, has been implemented globally for well over 100 years, with some spectacular successes. Strict scientific procedures are followed to ensure the safety of the selected agent. We are optimistic that once established in an area, the rust fungus will spread naturally and significantly reduce the growth and seed production of Himalayan balsam. Although this is likely to take a number of years to achieve, as the rust fungus needs to build up in a population, the impact will be permanent, unlike conventional control methods, such as manual removal and herbicides.”

  • Himalayan balsam dominates ditch system - early May © 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.

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.

This project is working collaboratively with CABI scientists, West Midland Bird Club, Warwickshire County Council Country Parks and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

 

Partnership Scheme engages with 2,500 school children!

Since May 2015, Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme has engaged with over 2,500 children from 31 different schools across Birmingham, North Warwickshire and Tamworth.

The children enjoyed a mixture of in-school sessions and field trips to the Tame Valley Wetlands, by learning about a variety of topics, including the Tame Valley’s iconic River Tame.

For those traveling from inner city Birmingham who, in some cases, had never stepped outside the city, these trips were their first discovery of the countryside. Thanks to the Education Team at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the support from Castle Vale Environmental Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the scheme, these children were able to explore more than the urban jungle they have grown up in and have been able to take away precious memories of the Tame Valley Wetlands.

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the Heritage lottery fund. The scheme is also in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including, charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.