This month: air pollution controls on burning wood and coal, buses, hedgehogs, Lembas group purchasing scheme, plants, recycling cat food pouches, swifts and swallows, trees.
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Air pollution controls on burning wood and coal
Restrictions came into force on the 4th May, banning the sale of bagged house coal and small amounts of “wet wood” – green unseasoned wood. This is aimed at reducing the amount of particulates released into the air when coal and wet wood are burnt. The average Briton loses 8 months of life as a result of airborne particulates.
Householders with multifuel stoves and open fires are encouraged to use less polluting alternatives such as smokeless fuel and kiln dried wood. Purchase of loose coal direct from coal merchants will be phased out by 2023 and the sale of green wood in amounts greater than 2m3 can only continue if advice is given on how to dry the wood.
The Sunday ‘DalesBus’ service is running through Swaledale again this summer, and will be operational until 17th October 2021.
The service connects Swaledale with population centres to the east and west, and is perfect for car-free visits to Swaledale, connections with the Settle-Carlisle railway at Ribblehead, and for those wanting to walk the dale from end to end.
Both buses (830 and 831) run on Sundays. The 831 also operates on Bank Holidays. More information and timetables are available at www.dalesbus.org and points around Swaledale.
Lembas wholefood buying group
Peat restoration and protection
Work is taking place around Swaledale and Arkengarthdale to restore the peatland, which can act as a carbon sink and reduce rain run-off. A Richmondshire Today article (30/4/2021) records progress on similar projects taking place around Hawes.
At the same time peat continues to disappear as it is dug out for garden compost. Consider purchasing peat free alternatives and signing the Wildlife Trusts’ petition calling for the government to fulfil its pledge to ban the sale of peat based products. The petition is available on the Wildlife Trusts site.
Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey runs this year between 22-31 May. Plantlife asks you to not mow your lawn through May and then count the number of plants you can see. Results from last year show that the dry May resulted in fewer dandelions and daisies but at the same time big nectar producers such as clover flowered earlier. Rain during June increased flower numbers but numbers were still down in July and therefore the nectar count for 2020 was 7% down on 2019.
Are bluebells flowering earlier this year? Check out the latest blog on the Sustainable Swaledale website looking at phenology: the study of seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year, especially their timing and relationship with weather and climate. Find out how you can help provide data to Nature’s Calendar, a joint project between the Woodland Trust and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, where scientists have selected a number of species which they would like monitored as part of research to understand how wildlife is being effected by weather and climate change. You can also find out about other projects you can get involved with, either looking at first sightings or monitoring species long term.
Recycling – cat food pouches
Following on from Cat D’Arcy (the Richmond-based recycler) posting information on what she recycles on the Sustainable Swaledale Facebook page, Rev. Caroline Hewitt has decided to be the local Reeth contact for recycling cat food pouches. Please wash, dry and flatten them and leave them in the box in her porch and Caroline will drop them off in Richmond.
Swifts, swallows and martins
Consider helping out your local swifts, swallows and martins!
We are finding easy ways for people to make bird-boxes and cups on a budget. One method for house martin homes is to make papier-mache cups from balloons, and attach them to a board. For swifts, a bit of carpentry is required to make homes out of wood. For swallows, the easiest way to make a cup would be making them out of clay or plaster.
If you spot any of the four birds (swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins), then please go to the survey form on our website where you can write up your sightings along with where you saw them. A map of sightings is also available on the website.
The BBC Radio 4 Today programme is following swallows in a series of podcasts: A Summer of Swallows available on BBC Sounds.
Together for Trees project: tree experts have now visited the 15 prospective new tree-planting sites in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale and paperwork is now being progressed.
The Woodland Trust have just published a report entitled State of the UK’s woods and trees 2021. The report found that although woodland cover has increased, woodland wildlife hasn’t, because many woods are in poor condition They are also subject to a number of pressures such as disease, air pollution and development. On the plus side, trees help to reduce air pollution and climate change, but much more needs to done.