On 21 August Forncett Nature Matters had a stall at Loddon Wildlife Activities Afternoon, organised by South Yare Wildlife Group. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and experiences with other groups and to enthuse members of the public with what we are doing. One of the strengths of our group is that we form an example of how others could start working towards greater wildlife diversity with their communities. We were inspired by several other groups, particularly in the creative ways in which they encouraged children to get involved. There were also connections which could lead to talks at FNM events - the first of these is likely to be a butterfly talk in February 2023. Our parish map, showing how we are plotting wildlife friendly management of gardens and other spaces, including farmland, attracted attention.
In August members of the Steering Group had a very pleasant meeting with Lynne Middlemiss, the founder of the recently formed Mulbarton Environmental Group, part of the longer established MALGA (Mulbarton Allotment and Leisure Garden Association). The new group is well organised and active, and is planning a family activities day in September. Lynne will send us details of this shortly and we will publish dates and times.
May 2022 saw us making connections with other local groups. Tim Ward, a wildlife enthusiast and parish councillor of Tharston and Hapton, got in touch with Forncett Nature Matters, having heard about our activities in our community. Two of our steering group subsequently met up with Tim and fellow councillor, Nick, at one of their parish sites in Hapton. This area, next to the church, is a small, secure and sheltered meadow where dog owners are welcome to train their pets. There are mown paths through and around the meadow, hedges have been laid and the brash kept for a dead-hedge wildlife habitat. Owl boxes have been fixed in the trees, and one is already occupied. Opposite the church is another larger field being developed as a children’s play area combined with wildflower patches and newly planted trees. A long native hedge has been planted for shelter and is growing well. A roomy building is the latest addition and is used for meetings as well as being available for hire, as there is no village hall.
We then moved on towards Tharston to a large area of unspoilt woodland and an old lime pit, and walked the public footpath. This land has been gifted to the parish council, and is going to be very lightly managed by volunteers under the guidance of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Some new paths and seating areas will be created so that people can peacefully absorb the wide variety of birdsong and wildflowers. A real treasure of a place.
An outstanding concern that the parish wants to address is the state of the river; we are all aware of the flooding problems, but they are also very concerned about pollution levels, having conducted their own tests, and witnessed the dramatic decline of all species that used to be seen in the Tas. (Similar concerns have been noted by FNM: see the article about the river here). It was a very well-spent and informative morning and FNM will keep in touch with our friends down the river.
On 31 May some of the Steering Group, plus Bob Hosea, Forncett’s tree warden, met up with a couple of interesting people ‘found’ by Billy further down and around the Tas Valley. Both are Tree Wardens and have been dedicated wildlife enthusiasts for many years. Sarah Long lives in Shotesham and has much experience working with landowners, advising them which species to plant in their hedgerows and then doing it for them. Ross Jolliffe lives in Saxlingham Thorpe and has a particular interest in mapping ancient trees and signs of their presence, identifying stooled remains of coppiced trees, often many feet in diameter. He is working independently, creating a Google map of his findings in his parish.
They are very knowledgeable and friendly people to learn from, and both have wide interests in the natural world. They were also very pleased to hear about our active Forncett Nature Matters group - especially liking the idea of our map and the creation of flowery hubs and corridors around the village to help out the pollinating insects. We thoroughly enjoyed a morning of swapping ideas together, and plan to keep in touch.
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