Great news for bugs! 
As part of our climate challenge agenda, Sparkwell Parish Council is facilitating some pilot wildlife initiatives around the parish.

Tough time for wildlife

As we go about our daily lives it is becoming increasingly clear that the natural environment around us is changing. Even in the height of Summer bees and butterflies are few and far between. We don’t even get much fly splatter on our windscreens anymore! The bodies which monitor change in the environment are warning of extensive wildlife reductions, for example with around 60 per cent of house sparrows having been being lost since the mid-1970s (RSPB) and hedgehogs in England,  Wales and Scotland declining from roughly 30 million in 1950s to about 1 million now. David Attenborough has just led some stark messages on extinction of many creature and plants in his “Extinction – The Facts” programme, BBC TV and a diversity loss crisis has been announced by the UN. RSPB reports that we are currently ranked in the bottom 10% of countries globally for protecting nature.

How can we make a difference?

In our small corner it can be difficult to identify what differences we can personally make to problems which seem so vast. Sparkwell Parish Council is in the process of developing a local green agenda and is inviting the community to come up with ideas and initiatives. We plan to seek funding for some of these and work with the community to make them happen. The aim will be to develop projects which make a local difference and draw on the skills and enthusiasm we have in the community. We hope that these will be seen as projects which are owned by all and that we can all contribute to.

Plans for the coming year

We have been successful in gaining some funding for two initiatives in Sparkwell and Lee Mill.

Sparkwell – Inspired by “Jimmy’s Big Bee Rescue”, Channel 4, develop a wildflower/nature friendly highway running along the length of the village from the nursery to the zoo and beyond. This should enable regular nectar “bee stops” along the route for bees, moths and fertilising flies and draw upon verges, gardens, fields and other spaces to provide flowers Spring to Autumn. This will be achieved through a combination of seeding and plug planting plus “no mow” patches of lawns and spring bulbs, plus tree blossom and supplementing hedge rows with flowers and shrubs. A number of individuals have expressed an interest in taking part. All flowers should be bee and ideally bat friendly and it is hoped to provide bee hotels for solitary bees, and some bird boxes and bat refuges. As we explore this initiative many new ideas are coming forward and we are already detecting real enthusiasm in the local community. We have a local horticulturalist on board and are guided by the project manager of Risby, a wildlife friendly village recently featured on BBC1’s “Country File”.

Lee Mill – A wildlife friendly area, including a Community Orchard, is planned on the green space next to Bottle Park in Lee Mill, with complementary Spring bulb planting. In due course it is hoped to identify other suitable locations for tree and flower planting projects. Advice on the design has been provided by our local community orchard expert and Orchard Link.

Hemerdon – Good progress has already been made in tree planting in the Three-Cornered Field enabled by the Hemerdon Hall Committee and it is hoped to also underplant here in due course and possibly supplement tree planting within the village.

Boringdon Camp – Discussions are ongoing with South Hams District Council to establish how we can work together to promote wildlife friendly initiatives on this site.

How can you take part?

We are seeking pairs of hands to make these initiatives happen. If you live in Sparkwell and have a patch of green you would like to use to support wildlife, please see the Planting options and Meadow Planting guidance . We can provide you with seed/bulbs/planting fact sheets on how to go about it.
If there is a green space near to where you live, we can explore with you possibilities for contacting the landowners to allow planting e.g. spring bulbs. If you have fields or hedgerows, we can explore with you meadow planting and hedgerow friendly flowers.
Equally important will be having local people willing to plant and to maintain the areas identified, so if you have a little bit of spare time please let us know. Hopefully, we will be able to identify some small groups to work together
All activities need to be conducted according to the relevant Covid-19 restrictions. Risk statements will be developed for any group activities e.g. tree planting in Lee Mill and the rule of 6 will be observed
We will keep you in touch with activities as they develop and would particularly welcome input from those who would be willing to get together (by video call!) to develop further ideas and activities.

Future Initiatives

There is much to do and drawing on local ideas and enthusiasm, we hope to develop a comprehensive wildlife friendly plan for our Parish, including involving all ages, community groups and local businesses. It may be appropriate in due course to apply for Wildlife Friendly Village recognition.

Please get in touch with your ideas:
All areas: Cllr Ruth Pearson-Bunt – 01752 336559
Sparkwell: Cllr Gill McEwan (particularly signs )- 01752 837868
Lee Mill: Cllr Vanessa Ansell – 07779030872
Hemerdon: Cllr Glen Peacham – 01752 330746
Clerk: Dawn Johnson