In this podcast Emily Marbaix updates us on what wildlife wardens have been up to, reminds us of autumn jobs to do in the garden, especially those that help wildlife, and takes a look at the eco-friendliness (or not) of our pets, including what we feed them and the flea and worm treatments we give them.
This month’s newsletter covers a talk on Cirl Buntings by Cath Jeffs, a conservation officer with the RSPB; information about upcoming webinars; the Great Big Green Week events held in Dawlish and Newton Abbot; plus a summary of the projects Wildlife Wardens have taken on around the district.
Emily Marbaix is back with another podcast (which you can also read) in which she talks about her latest wild camping trip, orienteering training with Emma Cunis (aka Dartmoor’s Daughter), and notes that 68 wildlife wardens across 34 parishes and wards have received introductory training. There is also:
- An update on the Wildlife Warden Scheme
- An interview with Paul Martin of Ogwell-based Ogwild on the group’s experiences so far
- Wildlife watching and outdoor ideas for the summer holidays
- Information about Sustainable Bishops’s wildflower art competition, which will be on show on the 11th September
- Information about Defra’s new campaign, Plant for our Planet
- Information about the Teignbridge Local Plan Consultation
As usual, it was been a busy month! We are currently writing ACT’s response to the Local Plan consultation, so this newsletter is a little shorter than usual.
Thank you to those of you who have responded to the Local Plan Consultation. This could be our last chance to influence where development happens in Teignbridge!
If you haven’t yet commented on any sites, you have until midday on Monday 9th August. Here is some guidance on how to comment on ecological impacts.
Two groups of Wildlife Wardens visited Ambios’ rewilding project at Lower Sharpham Farm. We saw how they are using small numbers of Belted Galloway cattle and Mangalista pigs (an old Hungarian breed) to mimic natural grazing and disturbance. As we walked around the site we were lucky to see some of the wildlife that is benefiting from rewilding, including a group of swifts flying over the Dart and some interesting peacock butterfly caterpillars.
In collaboration with the Woodland Trust and Rewilding Britain, Ambios is hosting the Devon rewilding network, which you can join here. It is a place for people to share news and upcoming events about rewilding in Devon.
In the latest Devon Wildlife Warden Podcast, Emily Marbaix brings you details about Churches Count for Nature Week (between 5th and 13th of June) and of a quiz she has put together to quantify how well you are managing your garden for wildlife. There is also:
- An interview with Flavio, the Wildlife Warden Coordinator.
- A summery of what Wildlife Wardens have been up to recently.
- Details about the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild challenge.
- Information about the Avon Valley project.
- Information about some of the meadows you can visit through Open Meadows 2021.
In December 2020 I signed up to become a wildlife warden for my parish, writes Emily Marbaix. It’s a scheme run by ACT aiming to help local wildlife survive and thrive. There’s a strong connection between wildlife loss and climate breakdown. They are both outcomes of our exploitation of the natural world and insatiable demand for more stuff.
Scientists often think of the natural world as a web of interconnected species, habitats and resources. Take one away and the rest become less stable. Take away lots and it’s like a Jenga tower teetering on the edge of collapse. Our natural ecosystems are now reaching this point and it’s for this reason that grassroots movements are springing up all over the place, attempting to protect what they can in their local areas. This is exactly what ACT and its wildlife wardens are attempting to do – help to look after their local area, and encourage others to do the same.
So how and why did I get involved? Well, I went to university to study science and the media in the hope that I could tie together my love of the natural world with my passion for communication and performing. Back then, I had hopes of being the next Attenborough (hey – it doesn’t hurt to dream big!) However, with £20,000 of student loans hanging over my head and a desire to get on the property ladder, I turned instead to the corporate world and pursuit of the almighty pound after a brief stint in teaching.
Fast forward 16 years and I’m in a more financially stable position, with my son at school and more time on my hands. So when I saw the advert on Facebook inviting people to apply to be wildlife wardens, I thought it was a great scheme to get involved with. I did some basic training via Zoom and started to think about what I could do that might make a difference in Abbotskerswell – the parish I’m attached to.
We don’t have many publicly owned green spaces in Abbotskerswell, and our local tree warden, Amy, has already assessed these and initiated the planting of a community orchard, which I was thrilled to help with back in 2019. I’ve met with the Parish Council and agreed to help with an update to our biodiversity audit which will include some recommendations/actions with regard to how we can improve these areas for our local wildlife. But the spaces are small and as such are likely to have limited impact as far as mitigating climate change and species loss goes.
I therefore see my position as more of a communication based one. I want to encourage our local community to do more wildlife gardening and engage with conservation efforts in any way they can. This might involve simply signing a petition that will help to give greater protection to threatened species, or taking part in a citizen science project. There are things that we can all do, however big or small, and I see my role as an opportunity to help give people ideas.
I started off by writing a piece for the local parish magazine, which included a poem that outlined lots of different things villagers could do in their own gardens to support wildlife. But then I started to think bigger. What about a podcast? I’d always had a passion for performing and had hosted a radio show at university and loved it – so I decided to start “The Devon Wildlife Warden” podcast. In doing this, I could still create something relevant to our parish, but with the added bonus that it might also reach people from other areas – after all, we want the initiative to spread – and it already is, with people from other districts getting in touch and asking if they can get involved, too – great!
Whether it’s challenging planning applications, enriching public spaces, helping with ecology fieldwork or simply putting a small dish of water out for thirsty bugs or mowing our lawns less often, we all can, and should do something big or small to help keep the Jenga tower from toppling.
Get in touch if you live in Teignbridge and would like to get involved with the ACT Wildlife Warden Scheme – it is in particular need of wardens for the Dartmoor side of the borough, but there is space for anyone and everyone in the area who would like to help. Visit the website or contact the scheme coordinator email@example.com.
* ACT’s Wildlife Warden scheme would not be possible without the generous assistance of: Devon Environment Foundation; Teign Energy Communities’ Community Fund; Cllr Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund; Dartmoor National Park Authority’ the Nineveh Trust; anonymous donors. Many thanks to all.
The ACT Ecology Group is looking for parish-based, volunteer Wildlife Wardens, writes Audrey Compton. They are needed to help support, protect and increase our district’s wildlife and improve its chances of surviving the ecological and climate emergencies we face. Wildlife Wardens need to love wildlife but don’t need specialist knowledge, we will provide training.
Having Wildlife Wardens will help our communities become more involved in the natural world, enhancing their physical health and giving them more joy and happiness.
Our aim is for all 54 Teignbridge parishes and Newton Abbot wards to have one or two Wildlife Wardens by the end of 2021. As our training capacity increases, we will recruit up to 5 wardens for each Parish.
Who can be a Wildlife Warden and what will they do?
Anyone who is interested in or knowledgeable about wildlife/ecology can become a Warden. You will:
- Commit to giving your parish’s wildlife several hours of your time a month.
- Look out for opportunities to protect, help and increase the wildlife in your parish.
- Carry out practical work in your parish that will benefit wildlife.
- Either work in a team or possibly train to lead local volunteers on practical tasks (or you could call in specialists from ACT Ecology Group).
- Send ACT and your parish council a brief, monthly account of what you have been doing, so we can all share successes and difficulties.
Wildlife Wardens in neighbouring parishes could work together on joint projects. Wardens with special skills and knowledge might also help train other Wardens.
Unfortunately, we don’t have funds to pay for Wardens’ expenses. However, Wardens who are ACT members will be covered by our insurance.
Some of our existing parish wildlife groups will be Wildlife Wardens, organising work and sharing expertise. If there isn’t a local group, Wildlife Wardens can work together – and maybe even start a group.
A. Surveying and helping to improve and connect habitats.
B. Promoting organic wildlife gardening
C. Monitoring building and development within the parish and alerting ACT of any wildlife damage.
The Ecology Group hopes to provide free training in these areas:
- Identification of all types of wildlife
- Habitat management and connectivity: hedges, woodlands, meadows, verges, ponds
- Farming and wildlife
- Writing risk assessments – and working with them!
- Wildlife gardening
- Creating pesticide-free zones
- Carrying out desktop surveys
- Monitoring planning applications and developments.
We will stay in close contact with the Council’s Green Spaces Team, and collaborate wherever we can, but we are aware their resources are limited. We have support from Teignbridge District Council, RSPB, the Woodland Trust and Devon Biodiversity Record Centre.
We have been granted funding by Teign Energy Communities, Councillor Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund and Dartmoor National Park Authority, and extend our thanks to them for this vital help. Among other things it has enabled us to appoint a coordinator for a few hours a week, who will ensure good communication and record keeping.
If you are interested in becoming a parish Wildlife Warden, please get in touch with our coordinator, Flavio Winkler Ford: firstname.lastname@example.org