May Newsletter

May Newsletter

The late May Bank Holiday weekend promises to be a busy one, with the Invertebrate ID Training taking place and NB participating in an event at the Willis Museum. I look forward to meeting some of you at the training– Steve has produced an amazing flow chart for invertebrate ID which I’m very excited about. At the Willis Museum we have lots of interesting things like tardigrades, and owl pellet dissection.

Thank you all for your responses to my email about the recruitment campaign, I now have the posters and will be delivering them to groups over the next week or so. We also have a supporting website page (see link at the end of this newsletter) and an article will shortly be published in the Basingstoke Gazette. So far, we have around half a dozen testimonials from group members setting out why they enjoy participating in a conservation group. If you know anyone else who would like to provide one this would be very welcome, it is great way to encourage others to join us.

In tandem with this, we are also launching a campaign called ‘Random Acts of Wildness’. This is aimed at the general public, encouraging people to commit to taking a personal action for (local) nature, which could be anything from building a bug hotel to supporting a citizen science project. Nature needs all the help it can get and hopefully these small steps can start to build up to make a difference.
In response to your feedback, work is now underway to develop a survey programme for our sites. BDBC is running training in the use for i-Record, the preferred surveying app, which is being configured to enable data to go direct to Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (the definitive of source of data for planning etc.).

This year pilot surveys are planned covering bats (Mill Field/ Chineham) and moths (Crabtree/ Down Grange). In future years we aim to build up our capability in this area and measure the impact of our conservation activity on species at each site.

Many thanks to the Beggarwood Wildlife Group for their contribution this month, I particularly like their idea about setting up a ‘community allotment’. 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

NB Groups
Beggarwood Wildlife Group (Keith Vaughan)

Beggarwood Wildlife Group (BWG) is a small yet effective organisation totalling 8 regular volunteers, who
meet every month. Our tasks range from the removal of tree guards (which we have drastically reduced
across the site), pulling of dogwood (again much improved), creation of a laid/live hedge (very well received by local residents), and building dead hedges in conjunction with corporate volunteers. We also plant indigenous wildflower seeds, clear ditches to attract solidarity bees and of course undertake litter picking.

The group’s ethos is to have fun whilst improving this wonderful area. We have developed a great working relationship with the local pub, the Holly Blue, which kindly provides the group free tea/coffee and cake after each work party, further enhancing the social aspect of the group. The site is known for the Holly Blue butterfly, hence the name of the pub, and the Scabia wildflower. The latter blankets the park when in bloom and looks amazing.

Our aspiration is to grow as a group and further develop our community spirit. We hope to attain a local allotment and create a “community allotment”, this will grow produce for local residents who need that level of support along with wildflowers to be planted into the park.

The group has always been associated with the Old Down site. Recently, however, it was agreed that the two sites break away to form independent groups. This will allow the two organisations to focus more on their respective locations.

3rd Party News
Restore Nature Now

A number of our third-party contacts, such as RSPB, are taking part in the ‘Restore Nature Now’ event, on Saturday 22nd June. This is a new campaigning initiative for nature, organised by Chris Packham and has wide support from lots of credible organisations. Some of the problems that nature faces in Basingstoke are national issues, where only a change in policy can have a significant impact. More information on the campaign can be found at: [Editor’s note: I know this isn’t everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but I hope some of you will join me in attending. I am particularly worried about house building – we need more homes, but this needs to be done in a manner that is sensitive to nature].

Voice for Nature

The Local Plan, Local Nature Recovery Strategy & Planning
Cllr Konieczko (the cabinet member for planning) has advised that it is unlikely that the next draft of the Local Plan will be available for review until towards the end of 2024. It remains of concern that biodiversity may be compromised in the drive to meet housing targets for the borough, this was raised in our response to the Local Plan, and we will be following up to get a specific response regarding how the local council proposes to manage this risk.

Biodiversity Strategy – There has been some delay in this due to the local elections and other factors affecting BDBC. Publication is just the start of the process and NB will be engaging with them shortly on delivery of the various actions to support our local biodiversity.

Nature Notes

Ancient Woodland Indicators
During my recent travels around our sites, I have seen a lot of ancient woodland indicator species in flower. According to the Woodland Trust, 1225 of our existing ancient woodlands are currently under threat. This compounds previous destruction as a result of post-war plantations (the so-called PAWS locations), agricultural practices and development and only 3% of England’s land area is now covered by such woodlands.

Preventing further woodland destruction, and preserving the remnants that remain, is thus all the more important. Many of you are actively working to promote these species and eliminate invasive plants that compete for resources, making a contribution to the drive to save this habitat.

For those less familiar with woodland ecology, I’ve included some examples below. We now have a small number of the excellent Field Studies Council Guide to ‘Ancient woodland indicator plants’ available should anyone wish to borrow them, and some training material is currently being prepared on this habitat.

Training Courses/ Events
Training/ Events – Dates for your diary

  • 8th – 18th June – Green Week (8th & 15th stalls in Festival Place, 15th/ 16th events at Overton Hill)
  • 23rd June – “Introduction to flora identification” training – a few places are still available for this
  • 29th June – “Butterfly Identification and introduction to butterfly surveying” training – places still
  • 6th July: Sherfest (NB has a stall)
  • 7th July: Old Down Mini Bioblitz
  • 12th July (evening) – Volunteer Thank You Event (Down Grange Walled Garden)
  • 13th July – Seed ID training
  • 26th July – 2nd August – Love Parks Week
  • August (date TBC) – Seed processing and storage training
  • Second half July/ first week August – “Seed Collecting & Processing” training.
  • July – September (dates TBC) – weekly seed harvesting (Old Down, Down Grange, Crabtree)

    NB Website

    Take a look at the new website page supporting our recruitment campaign and drive to encourage local residents to take action for nature: