Become a Friend of TWiG
From the 1st February 2018, TWiG will be introducing a ‘Friends Group’ to replace the previous membership scheme. An annual fee of £10 per person will give you regular newsletters, occasional talks, guided walks across the 24 acres of land that we manage and the opportunity to get involved in tree planting and other practical conservation work in the Parish.
Traditionally a wet month (February fill-dyke) but much more variable with the climate changes of recent years. Look for the silky grey buds on Goat Willows (‘pussy willow’) which open to bright yellow catkins. Celandines should be coming into bud and maybe even into flower towards the end of the month. Song Thrushes and Blackbirds will be starting to sing in order to establish breeding territories. Other species will be joining in. Amphibians will be coming out of hibernation and moving to the ponds in which they breed.
Thinking globally and acting locally has never been so relevant than it is today. Tattenhall Wildlife Group was formed to meet the challenges faced by trying to protect wildlife in this part of rural Cheshire. Working at the local level means interacting with landowners and land managers and informing and educating all people in the community about the loss of biodiversity and the far reaching impact of climate change and what it means for us in Tattenhall. Our work also involves habitat restoration and creation and, wherever possible, enhancing the opportunities for wildlife conservation.
Aims and Objectives
Tattenhall Wildlife Group was formed in 2005.
The aims and objectives of the Group are to:
- Promote nature conservation in the community
- Provide a meeting place for those interested in nature conservation
- Educate volunteers and others in the principles and practice of nature conservation
- Manage and maintain a series of wildlife sites in the Parish
- Work closely with local landowners and land managers
- Act as a local environmental pressure group
In total we manage approximately 10 hectares of land at various locations throughout the Parish and we offer practical conservation action to anyone that is interested and wants to get involved. Every year five indoor meetings are held with guest speakers and these events are supported by visits to other sites of nature conservation interest in the wider area as well as four ‘seasonal rambles’ around our patch here in Tattenhall.
Apart from our practical work and regular indoor meetings, we act as a local pressure group advising Tattenhall and District Parish Council and others about nature conservation in the area. Recently, we have been asked to comment on the speculative housing developments proposed for Tattenhall and have had a major input into the writing of the Tattenhall & District Neighbourhood Plan. .
Our basic philosophy is about ‘celebrating commonness’ acknowledging that whilst the parish of Tattenhall is not exceptional in its biodiversity resource, it is nevertheless vitally important that we take care of what is often regarded as ‘common’. Furthermore, the changing emphasis of nature conservation to be considered at the ‘landscape scale’ means that we have an integral part to play in current UK nature conservation policy – where local action is at last being revalued.
Come to our meetings, get involved in our practical conservation work, walk the Circular Tour of the Mill Brook Wildlife Corridor, check out our Facebook site, and tell us what you’ve seen.
Nature conservation in the community
Tattenhall Wildlife Group (TWiG) has worked hard to promote nature conservation in the community. This has been achieved through regular meetings at the Barbour Institute, visits to nature conservation sites of local interest and, importantly and increasingly, local conservation action including pond restoration, tree planting, hedge laying, wildlife survey and the installation of barn owl boxes. As a local pressure group, TWiG has been keen to support national, regional and local conservation initiatives and, wherever possible, take on important management tasks on tracts of land of local conservation value. Perhaps the best example has been the restoration of Glebe Meadow, a four acre meadow of increasingly rare unimproved grassland right in the heart of the village. Owned by the Parish Council, the successful application for EU Leader+ funding together with significant volunteer effort in 2007 has resulted in the Meadow being recognized as a Local Wildlife Site due to the 23 different species of grass which can be found. The introduction of cattle (Dexters from Cheshire Wildlife Trust) has not only improved the quality of the Meadow but, importantly, has brought domestic farm animals back into the centre of the village.
More recently an important development took place when TWiG signed a ten year agreement with the Bolesworth Estate to manage a significant tract of land which follows the Mill Brook as it feeds into the Mill Pond and, having passed through the village via Mill Field, the Spinney and Glebe Meadow, meanders its way to the sewage treatment works off Chester Road. The importance of this event is that there is now a potential ‘wildlife corridor’ stretching nearly two miles from one side of the village to the other. For much of its passage, the corridor can be accessed by the local community either via the Millennium Mile or else public footpaths. Furthermore, as part of the management agreement the Bolesworth Estate and TWiG will be allowing the community to use a new permissive footpath between the Recreation Club and the footpath which links Burwardsley Road and Dark Lane.TWiG have named this community resource the Mill Brook Wildlife Corridor.
A Living Landscape
It is widely acknowledged that we must adapt to climate change and, for UK wildlife, this means the creation of ‘wildlife corridors’ up and down the country which will allow the movement of vulnerable species to shadier or cooler parts of the country. Government direction for nature conservation, stemming from the EU Habitats Directive, through national, regional, local planning and even to our own ‘Tattenhall Village Design Statement’ and ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ reflects this policy initiative at all levels. For half a century following the Second World War, habitats and species have come under severe pressure from agricultural intensification and urban development and, as a consequence, people have become increasingly disconnected from nature. As a response to this situation, all of the nature conservation agencies and organizations in the UK have started to promote the integration of human and natural communities. In Cheshire, the Wildlife Trust has embarked on a ‘living landscapes’ project which, through working in partnership with the farming community, big business and local communities, will seek to address this issue.
For us in Tattenhall we are now in a position to play our part, to fill in a piece of the vital wildlife jigsaw – to restore, recreate and reconnect part of our local landscape, and to manage it not only for our immediate benefit but, vitally, to look after it for future generations of Tattenhall residents. A member of TWiG, an older village resident, remembers a time past when he regularly saw kingfishers along the Mill Brook near the Spinney; watched water voles in Keys Brook and spied ghostly white barn owls quartering the fields and hedgerows on the edge of the village. It’s not too late: these are not events that are confined to the past, nature does have remarkable powers of recovery and, importantly we do have the skills and expertise to improve upon the local situation. Already, as we reported in November’s TWiG newsletter, seventeen species of butterfly have been recorded on the newly acquired land behind the Recreation Club. This means that another Site of Biological Importance is on our doorstep – and, again like Glebe Meadow, one that is accessible to the local community. Furthermore, if we don’t have the required knowledge then we know that working in partnership with the Bolesworth Estate, the Parish Council and other organizations such as the Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group help and advice will always be at hand.
Working in Partnership for the Community
The Mill Brook Wildlife Corridor provides an excellent opportunity to promote and develop nature conservation in the community. Certainly, such an initiative is unique in Cheshire and probably elsewhere in the UK. It is an initiative which integrates our community with the local environment and is based upon a solid partnership between the Bolesworth Estate, the Parish Council, TWiG and the local community. Apart from the wildlife benefits which are already starting to become apparent, there are other significant benefits to the local community. They include:
- Supporting the Neighbourhood Plan;
- Acknowledging the Village Design Statement;
- Complementing the Parish Plan;
- Providing an educational resource for the primary school;
- Supporting the Community Pride initiative;
- Improving and extending access for the local community;
- Involving local people of all ages and abilities in practical conservation action;
- Raising awareness about the local environment;
- Celebrating commonness; and
- Thinking globally, acting locally