Tag Archives: Work

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

 

River Guardian Training Workshop

 

BEACON River Guardian TrainingBEACON held a fantastic River Guardian workshop on 25th January at Marthall Hall.  There were over 30 volunteers who attended the day-long workshop, which was a mixture of indoor desktop training, and then outdoor practical learning.

The aim of the workshop was to train volunteers, who have come from all backgrounds and levels of experience, to be able to safely take  water samples from local watercourses, and test the samples there and then using simple test kits.  These kits test phosphate and nitrate levels, pH and temperature of the water.  Volunteers then record this information and send the results to BEACON where we can analyse this information and see where problem areas are.

The day was kicked off by Terry Dudley, of the Birkin Fly Fishers, who explained the work that has previously been done by the anglers, and also students from Manchester University who took and tested water samples from various points along Birkin and Mobberley Brooks.  There is therefore already a good deal of baseline data for us to work with.

BEACON River Guardian TrainingCaroline Riley, from Healthy Rivers Trust, then spoke to the group about the importance of water quality testing, what we use the information for and how to carry out the tests themselves.  Caroline gave a practical demonstration of the equipment and test kits, and also answered questions.  Anna Gilchrist of Manchester University was also on hand to answer any tricky questions the volunteers had!

After lunch the group walked from Marthall Hall to Pedley Brook where they were all able to practice carrying out the water tests and how to accurately record the information.  A quick kick-sample was also carried out and a stickleback was found in the bottom of the brook!  The tests carried out on the brook showed low levels of both phosphate and nitrate too.

BEACON River Guardian Training

 

 

 

BEACON River Guardian Training

On returning to the Hall volunteers were encouraged to ‘Adopt and Spot’, to take and test water samples from on a regular basis, and equipment and test kits were handed out.

The day was a huge success with positive feedback received from the attendees.  People from over ten different partner organisations attending the training, as well as individual interested volunteers.  The volunteers have now ‘adopted’ 25 spots along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks as well as along the Rivers Dean and Bollin.

BEACON River Guardian Training

If you would like to find out more about the River Guardian project, or become a River Guardian yourself please contact us here.BEACON River Guardian Training

 

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash DeanClub members and volunteers had a fantastic balsam bash on 2nd July, in some slightly changeable weather where sunscreen and wellies were needed, all in one morning!  There were 16 volunteers in all, including three children who contributed over 40 volunteer hours in total.

 

 

 

 

Although there is a still a lot of balsam found in the nearby Dairyhouse Wood, the volume of balsam in some areas of the woodland has really decreased thanks to consistent control work in these areas year on year.  Now these small areas are under control, the golf club and its volunteers can look to begin work in other areas of the woodland.

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash Dean

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash Bollin Stockport Woodford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The working party on Saturday did just that, and were rewarded with lots of sandwiches and fruit pies in the Clubhouse afterwards.  Thank you to everyone that took part in the bash and contributed to keeping the River Dean free of invasive species.  At least you won’t be winning the wooden spoon for ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’ this year!

For more information on upcoming balsam bashes can be found here.

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Goodbye…but not quite!

P1040396

So, today is my last day in the paid BEACON Project Officer post. This post has ended due to a lack of funding, something that has troubled the BEACON Project for some time now.

Whilst it has been very sad to be closing down the project, it has been great to go over old files and photos and remember all the fantastic work that has been done as part of this project. Volunteers have been integral to this work and I am hugely grateful for all the input everyone has had over the years, be it with invasive species or diffuse water pollution. There has been over 7,000 volunteer hours contributed during the project lifetime, and over 2,400 volunteers involved ranging from 3 years to 90 years old. Without all your hard work the BEACON Project would not be as well-known and well-regarded as it is today.

BEACON Bollin RDWP Walkover SurveyI will be volunteering one day a week to maintain the project’s presence going as there are options to resume BEACON that will be explored fully in June. So, you can still get hold of me here or email sally.potts@nationaltrust.org.uk

There are also lots of resources now available on this website which may help answer any questions you may have, and local groups are still hosting balsam bashing events too, the details of which can also be found in the events section of the BEACON website here.

Thank you everyone for all you have contributed to caring for our little patch of the Bollin, and I look forward to what the future holds for BEACON.

All the very best.

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Decapitating Giant Hogweed

Return_Of_The_Giant_Hogweed_by_HappyRussiaWork has been done to control the Giant Hogweed along the Bollin by contractors, landowners, volunteers, BEACON and United Utilities staff.  We have started to work from the upstream end of the problem at Bankhall Lane in Hale, and have made our way down as far as Bowdon Sewage Treatment Works. 

praying Giant Hogweed Bowdon

 

 

Most of the Giant Hogweed has been sprayed using a herbicide, and some dug up where the plants have not yet reached maturity.

 

 

 

 

 

However, not all of the Giant Hogweed plants can be treated as there are just too many for us to tackle.  So, one way to prevent the plants spreading is to ‘decapitate’ them, or chop off the flowering head.  To do this you need PPE to stop the Giant Hogweed sap burning your skin, and you need to get the Giant Hogweed at this time of year before the seeds ripen.

Two National Trust volunteers and a member of UU staff, helped out last week on a blisteringly hot day to contol the Giant Hogweed at Bowdon.

Giant Hogweed Decapitating 1

Giant Hogweed Decapitating 2

 

You can see here the enormity of the task ahead of us.  Below is a bit of a before, during and after shot of the Giant Hogweed and its demise!

 

 

 

Giant Hogweed Decapitating Before

BEFORE

iant Hogweed Decapitating During

DURING

Giant Hogweed Decapitating After

AFTER

Thanks to the work of the volunteers and staff at United Utilities all the Giant Hogweed in the vicinity of the Sewage Treatment works at Bowdon was ‘decapitated’, which will help them and members of the Freinds of Bowdon Bollin in thier control work next year.

Giant Hogweed Decapitating Volunteers