Wednesday, July 18, 2018
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Welcome

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Welcome to Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve, we hope you enjoy your visit, do check out our interpretation board by Cheyney Close entrance for more information on the ponds, it inhabitants and local history.

Upcoming Events

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Why not join us at one of this summer’s upcoming events? During June and July we have four family events, World Ocean Day Quiz Trail, Go Wild, Wildflower, and the Big Butterfly Count. We would love to have you visit us and we’ll be very happy to show you around and tell you the work we have done over the last 20+ years which last year earnt us the Green Flag Award for conservation. There is lots to see and find out, a great day out.

Check us out too on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fospnr/
Also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fospgloucester

The Benefits of Volunteering

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FOSP Members talking to Nature Reserve Visitors

Volunteering of any kind has many benefits for the volunteer as well as the recipient. Great satisfaction can be gained by giving time and effort to a worthwhile cause or organisation. Volunteers may be motivated by a passion such as child poverty, animal welfare or conservation. Getting involved can make a real difference to a cause which is close to the heart.

For those seeking employment, volunteering can provide an opportunity to work in a particular field before committing to paid employment. Potential employers look favourably on experience gained in a voluntary role. The fact that someone has volunteered, in any setting, shows initiative, motivation and regard for others.

Making a new circle of friends is a valuable benefit of joining a voluntary group. This may be particularly beneficial to people who have moved to a new area. Working with like-minded people is enjoyable and satisfying.

New skills can be gained whilst volunteering and this on its own may enhance your CV and job prospects. In addition, sharing existing skills with others can be a rewarding opportunity to give something back.

The benefits of volunteering outdoor (particularly in a beautiful environment like Saintbridge Nature Reserve) are well documented. Both physical and mental wellbeing are enhanced. There is certainly something about green spaces that lifts the spirits.

A survey in the Guardian newspaper (ICM research) found that nearly half of all volunteers (47%) say volunteering has improved their physical health and fitness. Of the people who had volunteered for more than two years, 48% say that volunteering makes them less depressed.

When a volunteer group works to improve their environment (such as FOSP) they feel part of the surrounding community, with a sense of ownership and pride. As the improvements to an area progresses, there is a knock on effect whereby littering and dumping reduces significantly. It can also very rewarding and motivating to receive compliments from members of the public.

With so many opportunities to volunteer in our county, there really is something for everyone. You can visit Do-it.org to find yours.

Barbara, a FOSP Volunteer

Poem for FOSP

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by Marianne, a FOSP Volunteer


“One of the reasons I moved to my house in Abbeydale was the lovely view over Sudbrook and the greenery beyond it.

After some time of living in Abbeydale, I noticed that my pretty view was being spoiled by litter…so I went out and collected the rubbish. A few months later, I became an official voluntary litter picker for my local area. Quite often, I would paddle along Sudbrook in my wellies, using my litter grabber to remove rubbish from the water. Then it occurred to me that there would be other items that I had not retrieved and that would be washed down the brook – where would they end up? In Saintbridge Pond, looking a mess, causing harm to wildlife and hampering the flow of the water.

Sudbrook is near my house, so I have a vested interest in making sure that water from the brook can flow into Saintbridge Pond easily and safely. I had seen one of the information boards about FOSP, went along to the pond one Sunday morning and met some of the volunteers. I liked the positive difference that the FOSP volunteers were making to the environment – and I became one of them.”

Jane, a FOSP Volunteer


Why not join us, we meet the first and third Sunday of every month, weather permitting. There are a range of jobs you can get involved with from simply cleaning up litter to eco cleaning of the Sud Brook as well as planting bulbs and assisting with wildlife recording.

You get to make new friends, talk to locals and work with the Council, Police and Fire Service who all regularly visit the pond and nature reserve for one reason or another. It’s always a fun day out, we have a laugh and have over the past twenty years made a BIG difference to the pond and surrounding area turning it into a recognised nature reserve.

Last year, our efforts were rewarded by gaining the coveted Green Flag Award for raising the standard of the ajoining park and surrounding green space. To find out more about what volunteering entails you can either call Ken on 07541 920229, or email our organisation sectretary, Will Apperley for details secretary@fosp.org.uk

Alternatively, just show up any first or third Sunday of the month at the Saintbridge Pond, and you’ll find us spread around the pond undertaking various jobs, ask us any questions you like, you can even roll up your sleeves and you’ll welcome to join in. You’ll be briefed by one of senior team on the work we do and how it is best done.

Older children are welcome to join in as long as they are accompanied and fully supervised by parents, but because of the dangers of water and drowning younger children cannot be involved and we are sure you understand for safety reasons we retain the right to refuse younger children access for their own safety.

We look forward to maybe seeing you around the pond some day soon, even if it is just for a wander round, see what we’re doing, and if your tempted to join in you’ll be most welcome. The FOSP team comprise of people from all walks of life, communities all coming together for the betterment of Saintbridge Pond, its inhabitants and the surrounding park and green space.

April News 2018

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As Sunday was the first  real day when the team was able to clear up the debris and rubbish from the  outflows of both the River Twyver and the Sudbrook since the bad weather, it was all hands on deck. We were pleased to see the newly installed replacement for the damaged interpretation board. Also on this particular workday, there were a lot of people coming to visit the site and feed the ducks. However at the moment , the ducks are breeding and are hidden from view. It won’t be long before the females mallards are out , parading with their offspring.

Please remember to keep your dogs out of the pond during the nesting season and  if you are feeding the ducks , please bring grain, greens or wildbird seeds which is available at the local shop rather than bread.

As a long-time volunteer with Friends of Saintbridge Pond (FOSP), I really admire some of my fellow volunteers who work during the week, as well as  on Sundays, who are currently redeveloping part of the woodland walk. Not only has the path been diverted  but in it its place, in time, will be a lovely mixed hedgerow that will back drop to the new viewing area.

Most dog walkers and visitors to the site would have noticed that the area below the new path has been disturbed. This will be grassed over eventually and the wooden seat will be cemented and secured in place. As a conservation group, we haven’t developed this like a formal area, e.g. municipal gardens or flower beds, but a working environment  and a pleasant spot to watch the sun go down on awarm summer’s day.

Green Flag Award

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“A massive well done and many congratulations on achieving a Green Flag Award for 2017.  This is great news and a fantastic achievement for everyone involved.

Share with the wider group of Friends and volunteers that assist in maintaining and improving the pond and allotments. I have a Green Flag for you which we can arrange to be presented in the near future.”

Dave Pritchard, Green Flag Award

http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/

FOSP 2016/17 Annual Report

The Green Flag Award scheme celebrates the very best parks and green spaces – across the UK and further afield. Now in its 21st year, Green Flags fly over 1,700 sites, that’s equal to 64,300 Wembley football pitches in England alone. Sites are judged by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, community involvement and providing a warm welcome.

Check out the report on the Gloucester News Centre

http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk/green-flag-awards-gloucesters-robinswood-saintbridge/

Cllr Richard Cook, said: 

“These awards are a great recognition of all the volunteer hours and the significant amount of partnership working between many different organisations that make these areas some of the best maintained open spaces in the country.”

Western Morning News

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Why we all Need to Worry about the State of the Nation’s Soils

After a talk by Nichola Simpson from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust pending work on the Upper River Twyver and Sudbook by various organisations including the Environment Agency, Stroud District Council and Gloucester City Council are planning to look at the problem of silt retention and transportation to the nature reserve.

This is an article from the Western Morning News and West Country Rivers Trust which are addressing a similar problem –

England’s green and pleasant land conceals a peril that threatens our very futures, says scientist Dr Laurence Couldrick.

Rainstorm by rainstorm, the land is washing away – and carrying a cocktail of chemicals to pollute rivers, harbours and even the sea.

More than 38% of the soils on farms in the South West are severely degraded already. And before you shrug and leave it to the farmer, Dr Couldrick makes it clear this is everyone’s problem.

You might be surprised to find the chief executive of the Westcountry Rivers Trust so focused on soil health, but for Dr Couldrick, the problems start a long way from the river bank and his trust is partly funded through South West Water’s Upstream Thinking programme in an effort to tackle the problem at source.

There have been apocalyptic pronouncements that eroding soils means we have or 60 or 100 harvests left, and last year Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, warned that the UK has only 40 years of fertile crop growing left because heavy farm machinery and overuse of chemicals will render large tracts infertile.

Dr Couldrick is more cautious. He agrees that “the way we are managing our soils is completely unsustainable”, but holds out the hope that we will be prodded into action as the problem grows more acute.

“It takes hundreds of years to generate a couple of centimetres of soil, so we are degrading it faster than it can be renewed,” he says. “I’m sure we’ll look back in 50 years and say, ‘What the hell were we doing?’”

Intensive agriculture has led to soils that are badly compacted through ploughing at the wrong time of year, tractors trundling back and forth to harvest winter maize, even high densities of cattle and sheep.

Digging a hole may reveal that only the top eight or ten centimetres are freely draining. When it rains, those top few centimetres may be waterlogged, but underneath that the hard-packed soil will remain dry.

Instead of water slowly soaking in, it’s likely to run off. We have all seen rivers of muddy water flowing down country lanes, but if it’s not your soil, it’s easy to ignore the scale.

In one experiment Clinton Devon Estates installed a 20-metre plastic fence. In a single winter, that fence trapped about seven tonnes of soil.

A study in Cumbria found that in 2015 Storm Desmond flushed 84 tonnes of sediment into a single stream.

Run-off has costs for the farmer who sees their most precious resource vanishing, along with whatever fertilisers and other chemicals they have applied. There are also heavy costs for the rest of the environment. Homes and fields downstream are more likely to be flooded, and pollutants affect our water all the way to the sea.

Chemicals in the environment can come from many sources – a farmer’s inadequate slurry pit, fertilisers and the soil itself can leach phosphates into our watercourses. So, too, can an overwhelmed sewage treatment works.

“A lot of the big problems such as large sewage works affecting bathing waters have been sorted out,” Dr Couldrick says. “But in the South West we have a lot of small sewerage works and they are being put under pressure with the increase in housing. Infrastructure isn’t keeping pace.”

Whatever their source, once in the rivers, phosphates feed algal blooms, which use up oxygen when the algae dies. The result can be massive fish kills. The sediments themselves can cover fish spawning beds. And as the sediment washes downstream, it becomes a headache for South West Water, which must spend more money on purifying the water it extracts to supply our taps.

Once the river reaches the sea, sediment builds up in harbours. Further out to sea, phosphates can fuel blooms of fish-killing toxic algae.

“South West Water is putting hundreds of thousands of pounds to take sediment out of the drinking water it extracts from rivers,” Dr Couldrick says. “Harbour authorities are forced to dredge. In the River Tamar the sediment is mixed with all sorts of pollutants and is classed as hazardous waste so cannot go back on the fields. It’s a cocktail of poisons, including MoD waste.”

For many people, “the soil can be under your feet and yet out of mind”, Dr Couldrick says, but he has a message for townies tempted to point the finger at the farmer. “It’s not the environment versus agriculture. If we pit them against each other the farmer will say, ‘This field here is for me, and that wood or wetland is for the environment’. They must be incentivised to consider the whole.”

Managing soils correctly upstream protects the townie’s home downstream by making flooding less likely. In the longer term, good soil also helps to lock away more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Most farmers are not wilful polluters, but their margins – and their time – are becoming increasingly squeezed. Dr Couldrick wants the Government to give clear guidance and set out a baseline of what’s expected of the farmer – with proper enforcement. Adequate slurry storage would be a key requirement.

In the past we have tried to tighten up regulation but haven’t put any grant systems in place covering wide areas which are vulnerable to pollutants, he says, unlike the Republic of Ireland, where all farmers who have to deal with slurry are entitled to grants to provide enough slurry storage for up to five months.

If slurry storage proves inadequate at times of heavy and prolonged rainfall, the slurry may have to be spread on to the fields, from where it can be washed off the land and into rivers – particularly if the soil is compacted and cannot soak up as much water.

“This has been a relatively wet autumn and winter,” Dr Couldrick says. “We haven’t had the dry, sunny periods so there are a lot of very waterlogged soils and people haven’t been able to empty slurry pits.

In the Upstream Thinking programme the trust encourages farmers to see slurry as a resource to be put on the fields at the start of the growing season, rather than as a waste product.

Dr Couldrick recognises the difficulties that some farmers face. Small farmers may go to the back of the queue as contractors prioritise their bigger clients, with the risk that their fields are visited in less than ideal conditions.

Some farmers may perceive the problem as natural, arguing simply that “it’s a wet year”. Others may set aside land for nature.

Devon Wildlife Trust has pioneered the reintroduction of beavers on the River Otter in East Devon. A side effect of the beavers’ return is improved flood protection and cleaner water.

“Small-scale re-naturalisation is easy to point out, but 75% of the South West is farmed land, and we are not going to suddenly change that to woodland and a natural habitat, because we need the food,” Dr Couldrick says.

Michael Gove is proposing a post-Brexit shift of farm subsidies towards rewarding those who deliver environmental good, rather than simply as a payment for owning land. Dr Couldrick supports the sentiment, saying: “Every field has to work for the farmer – and for society. But he adds: “It has taken us a long time to get into this situation and it’s going to take a long time to get out of it. That is going to need longevity of leadership.”

© Copyright: 2018 Western Morning News | West Country Rivers Trust

More information –

Westcountry Rivers Trust Appoints New Chief Executive

Upstream Thinking

Green Flag Visit 2017

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It is that time of the year again and Friends of Saintbridge Pond reapplied for a Green Flag Award.

On Monday 24th April, Green Flag representatives were shown around Saintbridge allotments and the surrounding area including the nature reserve. On the previous Sunday and early that Monday morning, members of the team had been busy tidying and showing the balancing pond and its environs at its best.

 

Feeding Area Improvement

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In April, 2017 the trees have been coppiced surrounding the feeding area. This allows more light in, but members of the public were concerned they may not recover. However, they have over the spring/summer and wil continue to flourish the rest of the year until the autumn.

July 2017

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