Parish Council eco-update for September

The parish bio-diversity survey is almost finished.  Commissioned by the Parish Council, funded by the County Council Climate Emergency Fund, and conducted by local ecologist Graham Boswell, this habitat survey has been taking place throughout the summer.  The next step is to prepare a report to be presented to the village some time in the autumn.

Our nature walk at the end of August was led by Graham Boswell.  Ten people met on Brewers’ Green on a perfect summer’s afternoon, to walk, very slowly, to the famous Timberscombe Oak and back.  We walked very slowly because there was so much to see along the way; Graham’s knowledge is prodigious, his enthusiasm infectious.  We spent the first hour in the churchyard, a wonderful haven of wildlife-friendly habitats, and it took another hour to reach our destination as we paused to appreciate the richness of the trees and hedges, walls and banks and grassland along the way.  It was fascinating to look more closely at the Oak itself and learn that what would seem to be its bark is actually a dense layer of lichen covering the bark; the huge and ancient tree supports a vibrant community of hundreds of different plants and animals.

Our first attempt at a no-mow experiment in the village has been a mixed success.  The wildflowers having done their thing and seeded, and the grass has now been cut on Brewers’ Green and along the verges.  However our plan for selective and sensitive mowing, with pathways cut and all grass clippings being collected each time, did not go as smoothly as we had anticipated and lessons have been learned to apply next year.  We’ll be planting seeds this autumn and we hope that next spring and summer will see a good display of wildflowers – beautiful for us to look at and, more importantly, essential for the pollinating insects on whom we all rely.

There will be some hedge-cutting taking place in the village in the autumn.  The aim is to reduce and vary the times of cutting so that some hedges are always left untouched to provide food and shelter for wildlife.  However one or two stretches of hedge along the roadside are in need of a major haircut for traffic safety reasons; they will recover and hopefully be a mass of blackthorn and hawthorn blossom again in the spring.

About ten people have already expressed an interest in joining a village group to work alongside the Parish Council to promote local community responses to the climate and environmental emergency.   We’ll be looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage biodiversity, and exploring energy- and money-saving ideas such as community purchases of solar panels, insulating houses, and improving local transport.  There are already many eco initiatives in West Somerset, and there’s a lot of information and support out there to help and inspire us.  There’s a great national project coming up: the Queen’s Green Canopy, a scheme to plant trees across the UK to celebrate next year’s Platinum Jubilee.  Free trees will be made available to communities for planting this autumn see Free Tree Offer for more details.

We’ll be holding our first meeting in October – if you’d like to find out more, please email Caitlin on cait@globalnet.co.uk .

Caitlin Collins, for the Parish Council, September 2021

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