News: April 2022

Join the big plastic count 16-22 May; Litter pick update; MoorPeat; Mow free May; Putting aside areas for wildlife is not enough on its own; Reeth Surgery veg plots; Retrofit  Swifts, swallows and house martins: project update; swallow sightings and Wildlife Trusts guide; Sustainable-Swaledale-Volunteers Group email; Group Meeting.

Here are a few quick updates on what we’re up to…if you’re on Facebook, please join our group and get involved in the conversations.

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Join the big plastic count 16-22 May

Count how much plastic you use in the week 16-22 May 2022 and log the results  on the Big Plastic Count.  The data will be used by Greenpeace to back calls for the government to reduce single use plastic by 2025 by encouraging switches to reusable options.  You can also find out your own personal plastic footprint. Find out more and register at:

United Nations members have agreed to start negotiations on a global plastics treaty which would set rules for production, use and disposal of plastics. It is hoped that agreement on the text and funding will be reached by 2024. 

BBC article: Plastic pollution: Green light for ‘historic’ treaty

Litter pick update

The Two Dales Litter Pick, part of the Great British Spring Clean campaign, took part on  Sunday 3rd April.  Adele, who organised the event, has reported that the volunteers, with the assistance of  Richard Tarran and the Swaledale Scouts, cleared 15 sacks of rubbish from around the dales.  The Scouts did a marvellous pick of the Reeth and Grinton loop kindly supported by Brenda and Stuart’s bike cakery refreshments. Five teams cleared litter from Reeth village, the east and west Swale Trail routes and Robin Gate woods.  Adele already has another 3 sites on the list for another time. Pictures of some of the volunteers can be found on the Sustainable Swaledale Facebook site. Many thanks to Adele, the Scouts and other volunteers for all their hard work.


The Friends of the Dales have produced a Peatland Policy and plan to launch their peatlands campaign, #MoorPeat in May. A number of events are planned including a digital talk on 18th May entitled Give Peat a Chance 2022. Details of all events and booking forms can be found on the Friends of the Dales events pages 

Mow free May

Lock up your lawn mower for May to allow wild flowers to bloom and act as nectar sources for lots of pollinators.  Towards the end of May, Plantlife will run its Every Flower Counts survey asking you to count how many flowers your lawn has in a set space.  This can be used to give you a “nectar score” which will tell you how many bees your lawn can feed.  More information on the Plantlife website

Putting aside areas for wildlife is not enough on its own

A study just published in Nature and summarised in a BBC article has found that just putting an area aside as a nature reserve or protected landscape is not sufficient to deliver benefits. The study found that populations of wading birds within designated areas only did much  better than populations outside the designated areas if there  were active management plans in place.  World leaders are meeting in China in May to set the agenda of global conservation efforts for the next decade. A target of protecting 30% of the Earth’s surface by 2030 is gaining popularity but the authors warn that this will not guarantee the preservation of biodiversity without equal focus on the effectiveness of the land set aside.

The Knepp Estate is an good example of land which is actively being managed to benefit wildlife. The estate supports the only nesting storks in the UK and we were lucky enough to see them flying around on a recent visit to Knepp.  Viewing  the live web cam of the stork nest on Knepp Castle has, however, been disappointing so far!

Reeth Surgery veg plot

Spring has now come to the Reeth Surgery community garden beds.  The currants and gooseberries are now budding and the herbs are flourishing.  Chives can already be nipped off at their tops and used for garnish.  Please feel free to plant the beds and tend them whenever you want.  The Surgery is happy for us to expand the beds so suggestions welcome. Stacey is drawing up  a  watering rota for the summer. If you would like to be added, contact us on


The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the largest trade association in the UK construction industry, and RetrofitWorks, the not-for-profit co-operative campaigning for a national energy efficiency home retrofit strategy, have announced that they will be more closely collaborating in 2022 to help ensure that work to improve the energy efficiency of homes is of a good standard. RetrofitWorks works with many councils or organisations to deliver improvements within specific geographical areas and while there are no schemes local to here, it is hoped that the offering will continue to expand. More information at

Swifts, Swallows and House Martins: project update

Our Swift, Swallows and House Martin project, which aims to help these declining birds, started to take shape this month. With only a few weeks before the birds return for the summer, we needed to work fast to choose and create some hubs in the two dales where boxes and nesting cups could be put up prior to their return, to provide them with additional places to breed. One reason for the decline of all these species is lack of suitable nest sites – nooks and crannies in cavity walls in buildings, suitable empty barns and window alcoves

Many people responded to a post in a couple of Arkengarthdale Facebook pages saying they would like to have nesting areas on/in their buildings. As there seemed to be a cluster of interest from Langthwaite, we made the whole village our first hub. Jocelyn Campbell, an Arkengarthdale potter, made some earthenware swallows’ nesting cups and these have been installed in a couple of barns in the village and one at Arkle Town. We have also identified suitable sites for swifts and house martins in the village and elsewhere in the dales and hope to get more boxes up before the birds return.

Going forward we will continue to make nesting boxes and cups and expand out from our hubs in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale.  Over the summer we plan to arrange nest box building sessions that anyone interested can come along to and help out.  We will be inviting people to let us know if they would like some so we can install them next winter while the birds are away.  We also hope to work with local builders who are happy to install swift nesting bricks into any suitable buildings they are working on, subject to consent.  

We also plan to monitor and record sightings of the birds, so we know whether we are being successful with what we are doing and to assist with national recording. Don’t forget you can help by submitting your own sightings on the Sustainable Swaledale website  project pages

We hope to set up cameras in a couple of nesting boxes so that we can have live 24 hour observation of the birds, for interested people to watch.

We would be very happy for people to join our team and there is a range of jobs to get involved with – we need to identify and survey additional sites, build boxes, put them up, monitor them, and assist generally with developing the project. It is really early days and there is plenty to do.  Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.  

We thank those who have already shown an interest in the project and allowed us to put up boxes, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park for their support and initial supply of timber, and we look forward to creating a stronghold for these special birds across Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

Swallow sightings and Wildlife Trusts guide

A number of people have reported seeing their first swallows of the year in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale. Sightings have been recorded on the Sustainable Swaledale facebook page for 14th, 15th  and 16th April and I saw my first on the 21st.

The RHS and Wildlife Trusts have joined together to promote ways to support swifts, swallows and house martins. You can download their free guide full of suggestions of plants for borders or bog gardens  which will encourage insects to visit the garden and attract the birds to visit.

Sustainable-Swaledale-Volunteers Group email

The Together for Trees planting has finished for spring but a mailing list has been created for everyone who has turned up to do some planting.  It is not intended to be used regularly but provides an opportunity to alert people to opportunities such as volunteer days at the Castle Heggs cluster or sphagnum moss planting. If you want to be added to or removed from the list, contact 

Core Group Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 5 May at the Two Dales Bakery starting at  7pm. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

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