2022 Wildlife Under Pressure

Empty streamIt’s been nearly two years since the Parish Nature Warden Scheme started in Longdown and Holcombe Burnell and after a summer of severe water shortage and record temperatures, as well as headlines in the national press of sewage discharges around our coast and ‘litter-bergs’ out at sea, sometimes its useful to reflect on the plight of our wildlife here at home in our beautiful parish. This year Bird Flu, Trichomonosis and Ash Dieback have all ‘come knocking’ in the parish.

The successful planting of over seventy Wild Service Trees to commemorate the platinum jubilee and the general enthusiasm for the Parish Nature Warden Scheme, gives me great hope. Many residents clearly understand the challenges that wildlife face and are keen to take action to do what they can to help.

Having completed eighteen monthly stream surveys at four locations around our parish for the Westcountry Rivers Trust it’s been fascinating to see the ebb and flow of water levels, and soil run off (especially with changes in agricultural land use) following more extreme weather patterns. This puts global issues firmly back in the context of our parish, below are some charts recorded at Shepherd’s Ford. Most of our residents, use private septic tanks and sewage treatment works; proper maintenance and regular emptying can ensure no accidental discharges into watercourses.

Graph showing water depth

Eliminating the use of pesticides should help our insects to recover in this time of global insect collapse. ‘Thinking like a hedgehog’ to ensure hedgehog highways facilitate these creatures’ movements across the landscape and keeping areas around the garden a bit wilder and ‘messy’ create good habitats not only hedgehogs but also for amphibians and reptiles.

It’s incredible to think that 67 bin bags of rubbish have been picked up in the last two years from Longdown’s roadside verges. Residents that help to pick up rubbish near their homes really help to reduce the burden that litter faces not only in the parish but stops it from blowing into streams and then out to sea, so thanks for those that help with this effort. Continued support from Longdown residents, working together, and being mindful of the effect of their actions on wildlife can lead to nature’s recovery.