Category Archives: Projects

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!

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.

 

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.

 

 

Mini-beast hotels

Creating Mini-beast hotels from recycled pallets.

As part of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Community Environmental Trust has enhanced an outdoor space at St. Gerards Primary School in Castle Vale, east Birmingham.

Simon Lowe, Tame Valley Wetlands’ Training and Education Officer together with Sarah Oulaghan, Project Officer Community Environmental Trust created a “ Mini-beast hotel “ in the grounds of the school. The hotel was constructed from recycled pallets which were kindly donated by BMW at Hams Hall and was filled with various bits of material, both natural and manmade, which were collected from the local area and also brought in from home by the children.

Ten children from the after-school eco club, came out and assisted with the construction of the hotel, with the idea being that it would provide an invaluable resource for future lessons involving insects, habitats and the environment, not to mention providing a home for an abundance of creatures ranging from insects, to amphibians and even hedgehogs.

The hotel has been in-situ for almost a year and the children are already using the hotel to learn about the different species which live in their school grounds and are already getting to grips with identifying what they find.

You can find out more about how you can help your local wildlife by visiting the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust website and clicking on the “ how to help wildlife “ page. Here you will find plenty of fun activities that you can do in your own garden.

warwickshirewildlifetrust  ▸

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.

 

NCS participants lend a helping hand!

Over the summer, almost 100 young people on the National Citizen Service (NCS) gave their time to help out on Local Nature Reserves around Tamworth. As part of their NCS programme, run by UpRising Birmingham, the groups spend time visiting different community groups and charities in the area, then design and deliver their own social action project in their locality.

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme hosted each group for a conservation taster day during their programme. The young people visited either Broad Meadow, Kettlebrook or Warwickshire Moor Local Nature Reserves, pitching in to help with tasks such as removing Himalayan balsam, laying bark chip along a path, or removing invasive willow. Each of these sites has a dedicated volunteer group made up of local people, and are supported by the Wild About Tamworth project. Although only visiting the site for a few hours, the NCS participants explored the area and put their energy into helping to complete a task which benefits the reserve and the people who use the areas.

Pam Clark, a volunteer at Warwickshire Moor, said this after the groups visited:

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

As well as attending the taster days, two groups also asked if they could return to do more conservation volunteering as part of their social action project. In total over the whole summer, 98 young people from Lichfield and Tamworth have spent over 260 hours giving their time to conservation volunteering in Tamworth. Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands, said:

“I’m really pleased at the hard work that has been put in by all the NCS participants. Our aim at the Tame Valley Wetlands is to introduce people to their local green spaces, and this has given the young people in Tamworth a chance to see the environment on their doorstep, learn ways in which they can care for it, and engage with it in a positive way.”

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.

For more information, contact Nicola Lynes at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk or on 01675 470917.

Project Update: New Circular Walks

Two new circular walks leaflets, the first in a series of self-guided trails, have been produced by Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

Curdworth plays host to the longest of the two walks (5.5 miles) and allows walkers to explore the wider countryside, giving them views of the Midlands from the Over Green area whilst introducing them to an array of wildlife. The second circular walk (5 miles) can be discovered at Kingsbury Water Park, where walkers can enjoy a variety of wetlands and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. We would like to thank Curdworth Parish Council, Kingsbury Water Park and local farmers and volunteers for supporting the implementation of these trails.

TameForce, the TVWLP volunteer group, has worked hard to improve the access of the walks by installing new kissing gates, adding branded way markers, placing finger posts as well as installing an interpretation panel in Curdworth. Two leaflets have been produced, detailing the length, time and what you can find whilst on your journey. They can be found at various locations in Curdworth and Kingsbury and are available to download from our website here.

A third circular walk has been planned and is currently being improved in the Shustoke area, with work scheduled to be completed by mid September. The Shustoke walk will also be accompanied by a leaflet.

Further walks are under development and work will start on the ground over the coming months, with work already beginning on the long distance footpath, the Tame Way. Other access improvement projects, managed by our partners, are also underway across the landscape.

Stay up-to-date with the latest project updates, stories and events – sign up to our eNewsletter and events mailing list here.

Download walks leaflets

Wildlife Discovery Day – BioBlitz 2017 Success!

Kingsbury Water Park’s, Community Wetland is teaming with wildlife after 612 species were recorded throughout a 24 hour BioBlitz, hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS).

The Wildlife Discovery Day took place on 7/8 July’17, welcoming 78 primary school children from Kingsbury village, a variety of species experts, Rangers from the County Council and the Environment Agency. Members of the public also entered into the fun, through a range of activities, such as walks, talks and demonstrations, all for free!

The goal for the 24 hour period was to record 300 different species, including mammals, birds, insects, amphibians, plants, trees and fish, in the 6 hectare Community Wetland area at the Country Park, restored and improved by the TVWLPS with the help of local volunteers and thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Environment Agency and The Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust. This goal was ‘blown out of the water’ with records doubling expectations, thanks to the commitment of everyone involved and the restoration work undertaken on site. All the records discovered make a huge impact on the data for the area, helping experts from the Warwickshire Biological Record Centre determine the biodiversity value in the area, keeping an eye on endangered and rarer species at the same time.

 

You can do your own recording

It’s easy and you don’t need to be an expert! Download a wildlife recording app for on-the-go, or collect the data on a form and send it to your local wildlife record centre or Wildlife Trust.

You can contribute to wildlife recording in the Tame Valley by submitting your sightings on the TVW iSpot page.

 

Bioblitz

Would you like to know more about what a BioBlitz is? Click here!

TameFest’s third year of successful celebration!

The community came together to  celebrate the landscape and heritage of the Tame Valley Wetlands for the third year in a row at TameFest 2017 on Saturday 27th May.

The bank holiday weekend event saw approximately 2,500 people at Tamworth Castle Grounds, enjoying the fun and friendly atmosphere.

Hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS), TameFest provided the community with a taster of what the area has to offer through a variety of stalls, entertainment and activities. This included wattle & daub making, willow swords crafting, wildlife games and close encounters with hedgehogs.

Rita Gries,  Tame Valley Wetlands LPS Community & Events Officer said “We are really pleased with the event and the feedback we received. Many visitors commented on how friendly and buzzing the atmosphere was, and said they’d had a lovely day”.

Sadie Chapman, whose business, Staffie Central UK, had a stall at TameFest said “We were really impressed by the day! As we are local to Tamworth, we are always looking to create new contacts within to community and TameFest was the perfect event to make that happen”.

Philippa Truman, Membership Engagement Officer for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said “Warwickshire Wildlife Trust had a great time at Tamefest, encouraging people to sign up for 30 Days Wild this June. Visitors loved getting stuck in to making fatball bird feeders and playing hook –a-native duck”.

The Mayor of Tamworth, Councillor John Chesworth and his wife, Mayoress Tereasa Chesworth, also enjoyed the day. Both got involved in the activities, met stallholders and spoke to members of the public.

The Major of Tamworth said “TameFest was a fantastic free event which really showcased some of the good work that goes on in areas, such as our Local Nature Reserves. It was great to meet some really interesting people and learn about conservation in and around Tamworth. I know that the event have grown year by year, and I hope it is something that could return to the Castle Grounds next time around”.

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.

To see photos taken on the day, visit the Tame Valley Wetlands on Facebook. For more information on the Tame Valley Wetlands and the many other free events that are available, please explore www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.