PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES 2018-08-06T20:47:03+00:00

Moths_Butterflies_white

” Volunteering on the Meadow is something I look forward to. Getting out into the fresh air and doing something that really makes a difference is a fantastic feeling. Whether the sun is out or not, fellow volunteers are happy to get stuck in and have a good chat whilst doing so.”

Creating protected areas for wildlife

The Bishop’s Meadow Trust (BMT) has obtained funding to create protected areas for wildlife around the peripheries of the Meadow.  Work on two areas started in November 2015 with massive support from our regular volunteers. The wildlife areas will be enclosed by fencing so that people and dogs cannot enter the protected sites.

A small mammal survey carried out on the Meadow by the Surrey Wildlife Trust in June 2014 found a healthy population of wood mice and bank voles but other species have proved more vulnerable.  Anecdotal evidence supports this view and in line with its vision, the Bishop’s Meadow Trust now feels it is important to seek ways to encourage increased diversity of flora and fauna on the Meadow.

A “State of Nature” report produced in 2013 by a partnership of 25 UK conservation and wildlife organisations (see below for link) found that 60% of species studied in the UK have declined over recent decades in part due to loss of habitat.  It particularly mentions insects and animals which we would expect to find on the Meadow such as moths, butterflies and beetles; song birds, bats and hedgehogs.

The BMT hopes to create an improved environment for all these creatures as well as the small mammal population -an important food component for larger carnivores and birds of prey which we also hope to attract.

Funding for this project was generously provided to the BMT by Farnham Town Council and the Tesco Charity Trust.

The Annual Hay Cut

Regular visitors to the Bishop’s Meadow over the late summer months cannot fail to notice the hub of activity going on around the time of the annual hay cut.

Hay cutting is an important part of good land management for floodplain meadows such as the Bishop’s Meadow.  Removing the hay on an annual basis reduces soil fertility which in turn encourages a wider range of wildflower seeds to settle and germinate.  To complete the cycle, these plants, once grown, provide a rich food source for moths, butterflies, insects and beetles and some bird species.

The hay removed from the Bishop’s Meadow is considered of high quality and the Bishop’s Meadow Trust (BMT) contracts a local farmer to cut and remove the grass for which the Trust receives payment.

For the BMT volunteers, the lead up to the annual hay cut is a busy time.  Plants which are toxic to animals, especially ragwort, must be removed.  This job has no short cut so it involves lifting the ragwort by hand which is time-consuming and strenuous.  If you fancy some time in the “green gym” please come and join us!

Reeds_Riverplants_white

” We may not see the full impact of some of our work for another decade but that’s what makes it all the more important.”

Cattle_white” When you arrive in the Meadow you forget you are in the middle of a busy market town. During the Summer it is filled with cow parsley and meadow buttercups as far as your eye can see.”

Meadow Management

In the years immediately preceding its purchase by the Bishop’s Meadow Trust (BMT) the Meadow was very much left to its own devices with little regular maintenance or management.  A significant part of the role of the BMT, since becoming owners of the Meadow, is to restore, manage and maintain the land.

Our plan of activities for the Meadow highlights the following:

  1. Grasses and other meadow vegetation. This involves the annual hay cut to increase diversity of vegetation.  We first planted the wildflower “bee” meadow  in 2014 and we plan to do it again in 2016. The potential of cattle grazing on the land on a seasonal basis is also being discussed.
  2. Hedgerows and scrub. We are re-planting and protecting the derelict hedgerows to provide homes for birds and mammals and to create suntraps for invertebrates. The hedgerows will be pruned and trimmed as needed.  Areas of scrub around the edges of the Meadow provide homes for a number of birds (blackbird, song thrush and robin) and these will remain but encroaching species such as bramble are being cut back.
  3. The BMT has been carrying out routine maintenance to willows and poplars including pollarding and trimming. Old trees need to be checked to make sure that they provide no danger to the public and some have been cut down.  We have planted a large number of new trees at different spots on the Meadow after receiving donations from the Woodland Trust.  We have created a fruit tree orchard and planted a number of wild harvest trees on site.
  4. Open water and ditches. Areas of open water, such as the ‘Tudor ditch’ running through the centre of the Meadow, are important features as they host a number of specialist species including amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. As with the whole Meadow, the ideal management here is to maintain its diversity.  By dredging, cutting back marginal and emergent vegetation and not letting the ditch become over shaded, the condition will improve and it will hold water for longer periods.
  5. Bank side vegetation. The River is an important asset to the species diversity of the Meadow and the bank side is especially important.  The BMT will ensure that there is a buffer strip of set aside at least 2 – 4 metres from the river bank to create a protected habitat for mammals, birds and invertebrates.

What can I do to help the Bishop’s Meadow Trust?

A huge number of people have offered many hours of their time as volunteers to support the work of the Bishop’s Meadow Trust.

We couldn’t achieve what we do without this most valuable support.

The BMT organises several fundraising events each year with a flag day, bridge tea and more.
Could you provide a few hours help on the day of such events or plan a fundraising event with our support?
You can make a donation to the Bishop’s Meadow Trust via our simple online donation tool, Charity Checkout.
To make a donation to the Trust and to help us maintain the Bishop’s Meadow, click here.
Weather permitting, work parties are held on the Meadow most months of the year. It’s a chance to get your hands dirty for a couple of hours doing some physical work to improve the Meadow, with a range of options so everyone can be useful and get involved.
From planting saplings, erecting fences, pulling ragwort, bramble bashing and litter picking – the list goes on. For upcoming work parties click here.
Would you like to become a member of the BMT Board or an advisory member to one of its sub-committees?
The Board welcomes additional expertise in many areas including:
     1. Develop our work in primary schools
     2. Public Relations and communications
     3. Land management and species monitoring

You can make a one off donation or set up a regular giving standing order by sending a cheque made payable to:
Bishop’s Meadow Trust. c/o Treasurer of the Bishop’s Meadow Trust, Homeleigh, Alton Road, Farnham, Surrey GU10 5EJ
If you would like to make a regular contribution to the Bishop’s Meadow Trust by standing order download a form here. and send it to the Treasurer.