News: October 2022

Bison calf first to be born in the wild in the UK for thousands of years; Consultation on the proposed devolution of local powers and appointment of a regional mayor; COP27 and climate change; Local Seed Tree Nursery; Meadow Magic; New maps reveal Britain’s lost rainforests; Red squirrel sighted in Swaledale; Richmondshire District Council challenges Yorkshire Water over river pollution.

Bison calf. Image by christiegreene24 from Pixabay.

Bison calf first to be born in the wild in the UK for thousands of years

A bison calf has been born at the West Blean and Thornden Woods project in Kent.  Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust had reintroduced three female bison to an area of woodland to assess how bison can help to restore wildlife habitat by trampling vegetation, breaking up the soil with their hooves and dust bathing. Unbeknown to the bison rangers, one of the bison introduced earlier this year was already pregnant.

Consultation on the proposed devolution of local powers and appointment of a regional mayor

Responses are being sought to a consultation paper on whether North Yorkshire and the City of York should seek devolution. The City of York and North Yorkshire councils have negotiated a proposed devolution deal with central government which would see an elected mayor for the region. The Mayoral combined authority would receive devolved funding for transport, education and business support and could invest around £95 million a year in the region. Areas of interest include funding for the provision of  affordable housing and a £7 million investment to enable York and North Yorkshire to drive green economic growth towards their ambitions to be a carbon negative region. The mayor would also hold responsibility for the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. The consultation runs from 21 October to 16 December 2022 and if the idea is supported, mayoral elections would take place in Spring 2024. Have your say by responding to the online consultation form.

COP27 and climate change

The 27th annual UN meeting on climate is taking place at Sharm el-Sheikh from 6-18 November. According to a BBC article COP27 will focus on three main areas:
  • Reducing emissions
  • Helping countries to prepare and deal with climate change
  • Securing technical support and funding for developing countries for these activities.

Some areas not fully resolved or covered at COP26 will be picked up:

  • Loss and damage finance – money to help countries recover from the effects of climate change, rather than just prepare for it.
  • Establishment of a global carbon market – to price the effects of emissions into products and services globally
  • Strengthen the commitments to reduce coal use

The UK will be represented by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma and other government ministers.

This comes at a time when the United Nations has issued its Emissions Gap Report 2022:   The closing Window-Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies stating that the international community has fallen far short of the Paris goals. The UN believes that there is now no credible pathway to keeping temperature rises to 1.5 C unless urgent system-wide transformation takes place. Also check out the World Resources Institute report on the State of Climate Action 2022

The Lancet has also published a report: The 2022 Global Report of the Lancet Countdown which includes the work of 99 experts led by University College London.  It describes how extreme weather has increased pressure on health services with heat-related deaths globally increasing by two-thirds over the last two decades.

Local Seed Tree Nursery

On a sunny day in mid-October a group of volunteers met in Ivelet Wood with Alisdair Fagan, a Woodland Trust expert, to collect seeds (with permission of the landowner). A week or so later (another sunny day!) a workshop was held at Heggs Farm to make seed trays for winter stratification, the first stage in the growing process. In the spring, the germinated seeds will be potted out for growing on before ‘hitting the ground’ next winter.

Twelve seed trays were made by eager volunteers (as pictured)  and taken away with seeds, and more are in the making. So far we have propagated hazel, rowan, birch, blackthorn, hawthorn and alder from Ivelet Wood and holly and rowan from Crackpot Wood. Both are designated ancient woodland and seeds were collected with kind permission of the respective estates.

All involved are looking forward to expanding the nursery and planting locally sourced trees in future years. The project is funded by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who are running it jointly with Sustainable Swaledale. If you’d like to know more about this project or growing your own trees from seed, please let us know.

Meadow Magic

The National Lottery funded ‘Tees Swale: naturally connected’ partnership is helping to support some of our projects to create and improve upland hay meadows and species rich grassland in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale. A site in Arkengarthdale  has had 10 patches scythed down to bare soil and yellow rattle seed from the Yorkshire Dales area scattered and trodden into the soil.  It is hoped that the scattered patches will enable yellow rattle to get established across a wide area which will help to reduce the grass allowing other plants to be introduced at a later date. Information on Tees Swale projects can be found on their website.

New maps reveal Britain’s lost rainforests

The Lost Rainforests of Britain campaign has released a new map revealing the extent of Britain’s surviving fragments of temperate rainforests.   The organisation believes surviving fragments of temperate rainforest currently covers 1% of Britain  but that there is the potential for it to cover up to 20% where the climate is sufficiently rainy and mild. Upper Swaledale and Wensleydale lie within the rainforest zone which could support temperate rainforest, 

Their website also has an interesting article on using bracken maps as a guide to regenerating rainforest.  Bracken, which is estimated to cover 1.6% of Britain, is generally found on unproductive land, is inedible for livestock, and the bracken monoculture lacks biodiversity. Author Guy Shrubsole reports that some researchers such as Ian Rotherham believe that bracken along with bluebells and wood sorrel are indicators of previously established woodland. Others think that bracken indicates richer and deeper soils hence the old hill farming saying “ where there is bracken, there is gold”.  The author suggests that one way to control bracken is to allow the land to return to woodland and if there is too much bracken to allow natural regeneration, plant some mature standard trees which will shade out the bracken and promote natural regeneration. Bracken is not generally found on productive farmland or peatland so encouraging trees to grow on bracken monoculture might be more acceptable to those concerned about losing agricultural land to trees.

Red squirrel seen at Ivelet Bridge

A red squirrel was seen at Ivelet Bridge on 24th October by Charlotte and Stewart. Red squirrels have been seen in Swaledale but not very often and the Red Squirrel North England Group are keen for people to record sightings on their website, as Stewart and Charlotte have done.  According to the interactive map on the RSNE website, this was the second recorded sighting in Swaledale  (the other near Whashton) for 2022 with none sighted in 2021.

Richmondshire District Council challenges Yorkshire Water over river pollution

Richmondshire District Councillors have agreed to write to Yorkshire Water demanding that they do more to tackle waste water discharge into local rivers.  The Councillors have also said that they will seek clarification, as part of the planning process, on which sewage works will be handling sewage as a result of proposed major developments. Yorkshire Water issued a statement saying it “completely understands the increased public interest in river quality in our region”, adding it was an issue that must be addressed by a range of agencies working together. Yorkshire Water has pledged to support the government’s Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan. Particular concern was raised over leaking of sewage in Richmond near the falls where people swim.

Source: Richmondshire Today article 

Tree Planting – Call for Volunteers

Planting a few trees is a really constructive and positive way to embrace the New Year and a great excuse to be outside meeting people on a winter’s day. We have 12 planting sites around Swaledale and Arkengarthdale for this coming season and the planting schedule for the first half in now available, with a selection of dates from 1st December to 14th January.  

Please sign up if you’d like to join in. The format is the same as last year – we start at 10 am and plant for a few hours with a suitable break for a chat, a hot drink, and maybe even some cake. The work will keep you warm (though it’s not strenuous), and tools, guidance (and trees!) are provided.

There’s a link to our online signup sheet on the Sustainable Swaledale Facebook site. If you can’t access Facebook or need help signing up, email or phone Rob ( 01748 886 381). The schedule is filling up so don’t leave it too long!

Core Group Meeting

The November meeting will take place 3rd November  at  7.00pm. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

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