I expect that you’ve all been getting stressed, waiting for a progress update on the meadow establishment trial that we started running last Autumn. I had expected to be faced with the challenge of finding an interesting way to write around ‘not a lot’, but in actuality I do have something to report. Unfortunately, however, it concerns ‘progress’ in a backwards direction. Continue reading
On Saturday 2 July our meadow charity, the Naturetale Restoration Foundation (NRF), organised a display at our trial site as part of National Meadows Day. One might reasonably have expected an epoch shaping event of this magnitude to have brought this part of north east Essex to a grinding halt, as the transport system groaned under the strain (a bit like Worthy Farm does) – but strangely this did not transpire. Continue reading
A few days ago a film crew from BBC Countryfile spent several hours in Hillhouse Wood, near Colchester. They were filming a clip relating to Ash die back, and the Woodland Trust (who owns the wood) had suggested that our wood would be a suitable one to use. This was on the basis that a) it has mature Ash trees, b) it is easily accessible, and c) (I suspect) that the Friends of Hillhouse Wood, a local support group, would likely provide someone to look after the filmers and make sure they didn’t get lost / trash the wood / hold an all-night rave. Continue reading
Since my previous post, announcing that the NRF is ‘out of the blocks’ a number of things have been ‘ticked off’. Two independent experts in meadow management have been kind enough to provide us with statements supporting the ‘merit’ of what we are aiming to achieve. We have also approached a third person, a senior manager in one of the wildlife trusts, to ask for a third one. We have also identified a number of documents from Natural England, plus some academic papers, which set out the importance of maintaining and improving lowland neutral species rich meadows, which is the habitat that the work of the NRF is relevant to. Together, we hope that this material constitutes a sufficient proof of merit to meet the requirements of the Charity Commission. Continue reading
Regular readers of this blog (hi Mum!) will have read about the charity that we are trying to establish. The purpose of this is to run a long term trial to identify better ways to establish particular species of meadow flowers which have so far proved resistant to existing approaches. If we can do this it will improve the ability of conservation organisations to increase the biodiversity of wild flower meadows. And that means more beauty, insects, birds and mammals for us to enjoy.
What greater purpose could there be in life?! Continue reading
When a big new water pipeline was laid through the middle of the Woodland Trust’s Fordham Hall estate, about five years ago, one of the outcomes was that a new pond was created in a corner of a pasture field. At first all was bare earth, with the pond surround being fenced in, so that grazing cattle would not destroy the new pond’s banks. Since then this area has been left for nature to get on and ‘do its thing’. I thought it might be interesting to pop over and see the current state of play. Continue reading
Our intention is that the Naturetale Foundation will be entirely funded by grants from appropriate funding bodies (yet to be identified!), which means that we will need to estimate our costs up front. Where to start? As normal, we’ve approached this by identifying the broad types of cost that will be involved, and then drilling down into each one in increasing detail until we reckon we’ve thought of everything. Continue reading
It seems that these days few things is life are simple – and identifying how to set up your charity is no exception. To be fair, the Government has provided lots of guidance, standardised documentation, and so on to help. So it’s not overly complicated, but it does need careful thinking through.
There are two key issues to think about. Continue reading
Last week the establishment of the Naturetale Restoration Foundation took another important step forward. Having decided which of the potential sites on the Fordham Hall Estate will be the best one to use, I met our potential contractor on site. Here it is, in all its, err, glory. Continue reading
Of course, it’s not so easy to run meadow establishment trials without any land, which we don’t have. Or, rather, we didn’t have. I had started to look for agriculturally unproductive scraps of land around where I live in Essex. After a couple of false starts I had brainwave (or, more accurately, a ‘flash of the bleedin’ obvious.) Continue reading