Hot day for spraying!

 

These past two weeks have been very busy for our volunteers that have been trained to spray Giant Hogweed near the River Bollin in order to control it.  If you remember (or if not, have a look through our previous posts), 11 volunteers were NPTC trained for their PA6AW certificates, which enables the certificate holder to use herbicides near water.  On 10th and 15th May this training was put into practice!

On 10th May we met at the Green Dragon pub in Lymm who kindly let us use their car park as a rendezvous point, and kitted up to go out and treat the Giant Hogweed in the fields adjacent to the pub, and also those that were affecting the fish pass near Heatley Mill.  The giant hogweed here has been found in abundance over the past few years, and as a project we have not had the resource to deal with giant hogweed in this area before now.  Thanks to our newly trained volunteers we have been able to make great headway here in only one day.  Ten volunteers and five Environment Agency staff came along to help out, and everyone spent the whole day working.  You can see on the map below the area we covered, and some photos showing the extent of the problem.

Giant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACONGiant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACON

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACON

Area covered shown in red on map

On 15th May we focused our efforts on controlling Giant Hogweed in Hale where BEACON has worked with other volunteers and contractors in the past to spray the field, woodland and footpath areas here.  On this VERY hot day, four volunteers turned out and again did a good days work.  Access here was much more difficult as was access to water (but we managed!) and everyone did a sterling job to control the hogweed in the field area in the heat.

Giant Hogweed spraying HaleGiant Hogweed spraying Hale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area covered shown in red

This is all very important work as it links in with the work other landowners, interest groups and local organisations are doing to control Giant Hogweed on their land upstream of these areas.  Huge thanks to all the volunteers who work tirelessly to control invasive non-native species, and also to the Environment Agency for providing funding to facilitate the training they needed.

If you are a landowner and would like to get involved in the Giant Hogweed control programme for this year please contact us here.

You can find out more about Giant Hogweed, what it does, how to identify and control it here.

Call of Nature Community Workshop

Call of Nature Community Workshop

Community Workshop

As our Call of Nature Project draws to a close, a Community Workshop was held on Monday 19th March at Marthall Hall to discuss the progress of the project in Marthall and Ollerton. It was unfortunate that the turnout was very small, but the evening was still very interesting and informative.

Sally Potts, Project Officer, who has delivered this project, gave a presentation about how the project had been carried out, and that by working in the local community and with local schools, over 150 local people have been engaged as part of this project. Most people are aware of how to look after their septic tanks, but there were commonly asked questions regarding what cleaning products can be used, and whether surface water can be connected to a septic tank.

BEACON River Guardians Marthall Brook  Call of Nature

River Guardian

River Guardians have been trained as part of this project in January, and are already testing water quality in Marthall and Pedley Brooks. This will hopefully show an improvement in the currently poor water quality here, as people take more care of their septic tanks and sewage treatment systems.

 

 

APEM Environmental Consultants also gave a short presentation at the workshop. They have carried out much more detailed water quality tests for the Call of Nature project.  Their results show that there is an issue with nitrate across brooks, which can be caused by leaking or faulty septic tanks, agricultural run-off from fields and erosion from river banks.  At certain points

apem Walkover-survey-1024x765

APEM Ecological Consultants

along the brooks there was found to be a very significant increase in the levels of bacteria in the water.  These bacteria are associated with sewage, and so must be further investigated to determine the source of these bacteria and work with the landowners or householders to rectify the problem.  Some of the sample points also showed that the issues with bacteria were chronic, so not just one off problems found at the time when the surveys were carried out, but problems where the bacteria have been introduced to the water over a number of months.

 

Attendees at the workshop found this all to be very interesting and sobering information, and had concerns about being located at the source of a major water system (Marthall and Pedley Brooks flow into Birkin Brook and then the River Bollin). The attendees believed that more needs to be done to stop septic tank pollution at the source, as it will be beneficial for wildlife along the whole of the waterbodies and those connected to Marthall and Pedley Brooks.

Call of Nature Marthall Map

Map of Marthall and Pedley Brooks

More work will be done to connect with more people through coffee mornings and the village garden party. A leaflet has also been produced that can be requested explaining the Call of Nature project in this area.

It important for wildlife that we all do the right thing when answering the Call of Nature.

For more information about the Call of Nature project please visit the website here, or contact us here.

Giant Hogweed better watch out!

Over the course of this past week and a half, we have seen 11 volunteers from various organisations and backgrounds undergo certified training to enable them to safely use herbicides near water.  The fantastic news is that they all passed the training, which brings us to 26 volunteers now trained and able to use herbicides near water to control invasive non-native plant species.

This greatly increases the capacity of the BEACON project as there is only one Project Officer employed as part of the project, so if an area is being monitored and treated by volunteers, the Project Officer can move on and work downstream elsewhere.  This has worked brilliantly over the past years, and we hope with 11 newly trained volunteers this way of working can continue.  NPTC Training BEACON EA

This season our efforts will be focused on controlling Giant Hogweed at Dunham, Lymm and Heatley where is has been allowed to grow unchecked for many years.  You can find out more about Giant Hogweed and the affects it has on people and wildlife here.

Thank you to the Environment Agency for funding this brilliant opportunity for our volunteers, for rangers at Macclesfield Riverside Park for giving up their Visitor Centre for over a week, and of course thanks must go to the volunteers for dedicating their time to do this course, and in the future to controlling invasive non-native species.

NPTC Training BEACON EA

River Guardian Training Workshop

River Guardian Workshop

On Tuesday 16th January BEACON held a workshop to train new River Guardians as part of our Call of Nature Project.

This free workshop was held in Marthall Hall in Ollerton, and a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and organisations attended.

The morning session was spent indoors explaining why BEACON has River Guardians, and how they play a very important role in our Call of Nature Project.  As part of the Call of Nature Project, River Guardians will be taking water samples from points along Marthall and Pedley Brooks.  This will enable us to see whether the engagement work we have done around septic tanks has been successful.  We hope that by giving local householders information, resources and support, septic tanks will be better used and maintained, thus resulting in an improvement in water quality.

BEACON River Guardians

The afternoon was a little chilly and wet, but still spent outside the classroom practicing taking water samples, and recording the results found.  This more informal part of the training was a great chance for volunteers to mingle, and ask questions about the practicalities of these surveys.

 

BEACON River Guardians

The day was a great success with 11 new Guardians trained, which brings the total number of River Guardians to 42.  That’s 42 people working across the Bollin Catchment, testing various tributaries and rivers for pollution.  The volunteers enjoyed gaining an ‘insight into exactly why we are doing the job and the long term benefits to the environment.’ and also ‘doing the practical exercise to understand exactly what we have to do and how long it takes. The breaks were also useful to speak to other participants and browse the maps and the other materials available.’

 

Thank you to all our River Guardians who give up their time to take water samples and send in their results.  This information is invaluable and wonderful to have.

BEACON River GuardiansBEACON River Guardians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the Call of Nature Project run in the North West please visit their website here.

This project is being delivered through the Mersey Rivers Trust, and is funded by the Environment Agency.

You can find more information on River Guardians here.

Restore, Rewild, Realise

Postcode Local TrustBEACON has been successfully awarded a £20,000 grant from the Postcode Local Trust to carry out a habitat restoration project called ‘Restore, Rewild, Realise’.

BEACON will use this grant to ‘Restore’ river banks using natural materials such as willow and hazel hurdles.  Habitats where invasive species have been controlled, but where local flora has been unable to re-establish successfully will be planted up with native wildflowers, plants and trees.  By doing this we will stem the re-growth of invasives and give the natives a competitive advantage, and is the ‘Rewild’ part of the project.  We hope that local volunteers and schools will be involved in restoring habitats and seeing wildlife thrive in restored areas.

Riverbank Restoration Avro Golf Club

The main event as part of this project will be a Bioblitz, held in the summer to educate local children and adults on species identification, habitats, control of invasive species.  By conducting simple nature surveys at this event, they will learn how to record and identify species, and ‘Realise’ the importance of local, native habitats.

This project will take place throughout the course of 2018, and as well as benefitting native   species and habitats, it will also benefit volunteers by providing them with conservation skills and knowledge they may not have previously had.  Schools will also benefit from environmental education workshops being run as part of this project.

The Carrs Ian and Sal black poplar planting

BEACON is extremely thankful to the Postcode Local Trust for awarding us this grant.  Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer said, ‘BEACON has been financially unable to undertake substantive habitat restoration works, and this will enable us to further progress our work, and build on the success of previous years’.

For more information or to get involved in Restore, Rewild, Realise, please contact us here.

Environment Education Workshops BEACON

Postcode Local Trust is a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk

To find out how to play, and thus support more charities please visit http://www.postcodelottery.co.uk

 

Merry Christmas

Wishing all our members and volunteers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

You can keep up to date with what’s happening in 2018 by checking our Facebook page here, and join in with free training and events advertised here

We hope to see you out balsam bashing, surveying or testing water quality soon 🙂

Species Alert – Asian Hornet

Asian HornetUnfortunately Asian Hornet (Velspa velutina) has been confirmed in North Devon near an apiary.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.

This is the first confirmed sighting since last year, when a nest was discovered in the Tetbury area in Gloucestershire. That Asian hornet incursion was successfully contained by bee inspectors who promptly tracked down and destroyed the nest.

There is information on how to identify this new invasive species on the BEACON website here

The free Asian Hornet Watch reporting app, launched last March and downloaded 6500 times already, allows people to quickly and easily report possible sightings of the invasive species and send pictures of suspect insects to experts at the National Bee Unit.hornets European and Asian Identification

Sightings can also be reported to the National Bee Unit here.

For more information please visit the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website