March Newsletter

Another season of conservation work parties is almost complete and what a rainy one it has been. Thank you all for the work you do to support our local nature in all weathers! Now that the spring is (allegedly) on its way, it’s time to start thinking about training and summer events. This month the invitation has gone out for the Invertebrate training, which has proved very popular. Wildflower training is in the process of being set up so look out for the invitation soon.
Last month, I promised that we would start to tackle some of the issues raised by groups in their
questionnaires. First on the list is recruitment, as many of us suffer the same challenge in attracting and
retaining members for our groups. The plan is to have a big campaign, covering multiple groups, starting in May. This month HIWWT ran some training on this area, and it provided some useful ideas to help us design the campaign. Watch this space…..
Another focus this month has been the BDBC Biodiversity Strategy, the Council is required (under the
Environment Act) to produce this document, which sets out how they will protect and enhance biodiversity across the borough. One of their early actions is formation of a ‘Borough Wide Partnership For Nature’, to bring together all of those with an interest in protecting local nature, NB will be a member of this.
Finally, this month we have contributions from Old Down and Sherfield Park. If you’d like to include something in a future newsletter, please contact me via the email address below.
Best wishes

Latest News

NB Groups/ Our ‘Green’ Partners

Sherfield Park – Tree Planting at The Larches (Niamh Harrison)
We have been approached about forming a new NB group in Sherfield Park (just north of Chineham). Over the last few weeks, we’ve made a start, with some major tree planting at a local site known as The Larches.
The Larches was planted as a timber crop around WW2, with a fast-growing monoculture that offered little biodiversity to wildlife. The price of timber had fallen by the time it was due to be harvested, 50 years later, and so it was left to slowly fall apart; it was never initially intended to be public access land. The trees had become dangerously prone to falling over, and alongside the lack of a beneficial variety of species you would typically find in a forest, it was determined that the Larches should be felled, and work could be done to restore it.
The Larches sits on what used to be ancient woodland, as we have across copses in Chineham. Ancient
woodland covers a tiny fraction of the UK’s land mass, and its soils are a vital component, as the time
(centuries or millennia) these soils have taken to form, and their relative lack of disturbance means they are hugely complex and diverse. The loss of soil profiles through ancient woodland destruction is a serious issue, as they cannot be recreated or translocated, and so restoring this site to ancient woodland is critical to preserving this amazing resource.
Our tree planting events at the Larches had incredible attendances from the local community and beyond,
with over 70 people at the first session, and 50 at the second, following an intensive publicity campaign via social media and local contacts. We planted a variety of native species, from Hazel to Hornbeam,
Honeysuckle, and Hawthorn (others not beginning with ‘H’ too!), which reflect the diversity you would expect to see in a mature woodland. These species will encourage a broader range of wildlife to enjoy the Larches as it develops, and this is only the first site we will be tackling as part of the new Sherfield Park Conservation Group, as there are many beautiful areas that need management in the community.
The success of our Larches events has given us food for thought as we look to helping other groups with
recruitment. There is clearly an appetite to get involved with local conservation efforts; we just need to
replicate the enthusiasm for the Larches elsewhere across the borough.

Third-Party News

Hampshire Cultural Trust
The Hampshire Cultural Trust runs various local attractions – including Basing House, the Willis Museum and Milestones. They have recently contacted us as they want to play their part by improving biodiversity on their sites, and this has led to several opportunities.
Basing House – NB has been asked to help with some conservation work on the boundary hedge and brickbuilt ponds at the site. Last week Alan Wilkson visited the site to see what species could be found in the pond, as well as finding a variety of ‘silt-dwelling’ invertebrates, he also established that there have been several reports on Book Lamprey around the pond (which links to the Loddon). Definitely worth googling this one – a very unusual looking fish!
Willis Museum – We have been offered the chance to support an event at the Willis Museum in May, this is a great chance to do some recruitment and to encourage people to take action to help our local wildlife and habitats. Hope to see some of you there.

Voice for Nature

The Local Plan, Local Nature Recovery Strategy & Planning
In parallel with our ‘hands-on’ nature conservation activity, several members of NB are actively involved in
championing nature to protect our valuable green spaces from being overtaken by development. Thanks to Keith from Beggarwood, for raising concerns about potential litter as a result of the opening of a new
McDonalds outlet in the area – a local Councillor is now supporting our request for McDonalds to explain how it intends to prevent its operation leading to an increase in litter.
This month we also submitted our response to the BDBC Local Plan. We have sought assurances in areas such as the inclusion of adequate ‘buffer zones’ for wildlife within developments and, effective implementation of new regulations on Biodiversity Net Gain (which require developers to leave the biodiversity on sites in a better state than they found it).

Nature Notes

Mad March Hares! (Jenny Levy, Old Down)
Hares are active again, with several being spotted in the Manydown fields alongside the gravel cycle path that leads to Old Down. You could just about see the bump of their brown bodies hunkered down in the grass.
Hares are bigger than rabbits, have a boney face, longer ears with noticeable black tips and have longer hind legs. They like arable farmland with hedgerows so Manydown is a good place for them. Hares do not shelter in burrows but rest in a shallow depression in the ground called a form. If you see ‘boxing hares’ that will be a female trying to ward of an amorous male – not two males fighting. The young (leverets) stay with the mother for a month or so and then have to fend for themselves. The number of hares in the UK has sadly declined over the last decades due mainly to loss of habitat. A cold and wet spring will have a detrimental effect on hare numbers.

Training/ Events – Dates for your diary

  • 29th & 30th March: Easter Egg Hunt at Basing House (NB is doing a bug hunt)
  • 25th May: “Introduction to invertebrates” training – Fully booked! Another session in planned for
    September, we are running a ‘waiting list’.
  • 27th May – NB stand at the Willis Museum
  • 8th – 18th June – Green Week
  • 23rd June: “Introduction to flora identification” training – invitation to be issued shortly
  • 29th June: “Butterfly Identification and introduction to butterfly surveying” training
  • 6th July: Sherfest (NB has a stall)
  • 7th July: Old Down Mini Bioblitz


Don’t forget, lots of interesting events can now be found on the NB website…