The Nature New Mills group was formed in response to the 2020 Community Conversation, and the realisation that we are in a crisis where most of our plants and animals are declining, and one in ten face extinction.
The two current priorities are:
- A Nature Recovery Network Plan
- Reconnecting people with nature: education and engagement
A Nature Recovery Network is a local strategy to a create a joined-up system of places important for wild plants and animals, on land and at sea. It is a concept promoted by the Wildlife Trusts, and is contained in the Environment Bill.
We can plot what natural assets we need to keep, what we can improve, and where new habitats need to be created. Then working with the whole community including Councils, wildlife organisations, and landowners/managers, we can help create a plan and deliver improvements in a strategic, planned and cost-effective way.
Reconnecting local people with nature will not only improve our collective and individual wellbeing, but help create a culture of respect and care for our fellow creatures and habitats. Current plans include:
- Nature walks around New Mills as a joint project with Walkers are Welcome.
- Wildlife projects in local gardens.
- A Webinar (or actual meeting if allowed) with panel to advise people on ways they can encourage nature in their gardens or other spaces
- Planting collected acorns, nuts and other seeds to grow tree saplings for future tree planting events
You can get involved with any of the projects (or start your own!) by joining the Nature New Mills WhatsApp group or working in detail on one of the projects; email email@example.com for details.
Tree Planting: Part of the reason we need a Nature Recovery Strategy is to support and guide the many current tree-planting initiatives. These are important to create woodland and edge-of-woodland eco-systems, but they need to involve the right trees in the right places to be effective and avoid doing harm to existing habitats. This map from Friends of the Earth is a useful starting point for these conversations. It shows New Mills has a massive potential to help fulfil the country’s tree-planting ambitions.
A different tool, Treezilla, helps communities map, measure and monitor their urban trees. Quite a few have already been mapped in New Mills, but there’s still plenty that could be added.
Tackling Invaders has been running for a number of years and has had a transformative effect in some of our best loved wildlife sites including The Torrs and Mousley Bottom.
It aims to tackle non-native invasive species; primarily plants which are not native to the British Isles and which are spreading rapidly, harming our native ecosystems.
The principle threat identified is from Himalayan Balsam, an annual which grows chiefly in damper places, out-competing other plants but dying back in the winter, exposing bare soil. The resulting problems include soil erosion, and a reduction in the number and types of native plants and the creatures that live on them.
Transition New Mills, with the help of wildlife experts and the local councils, have developed a plan to tackle Himalayan Balsam. This basically involves:
- developing links with other local and neighbouring community groups who may be able to assist the project either in terms of expertise or manpower;
- educating the public about the plant and the threat
- mapping where it exists, by encouraging people to report it using the planttracker app (download for free here) ; and
- pulling it up in the period between germination and flowering (roughly April – early July)
See our plan here: Tackling Invaders Project Plan
There are regular formal events clearing the plant; keep your eye on the facebook or blog pages for dates. So far we have concentrated on the Torrs Park from Archie to Goytside, back up the Sett Valley, and in Mousley Bottom.
You can also Pledge to Pick a Patch (where you pledge to take responsibility to keep a specific area clear of balsam, or join in with informal ad-hoc bashes, please email us if you’re interested in this. We’d also like to hear from you if you can help in other ways.
Finally, the easiest way is to pull it when out walking, but it’s difficult to make a significant impact on an area this way, and it tends to spoil a good walk!
Here’s some advice when picking balsam:
- Concentrate on new small patches, or on the edges of existing clumps, to limit the spread
- Crush the stems, or else it might regrow
- Leave in a pile out of the way of paths and walkers
- Protect yourself; wear gloves, stout footwear and long sleeves
- Let us know where you’ve pulled it
- Tell your friends about it
- Pull it when it is setting seed; this will spread the plant further
- Pull from dense clumps of undergrowth; this may disturb nesting birds
- Pull if you’re not sure what it is
- Leave in the middle of paths; this can be a slip hazard
- Put yourself at risk, especially on riverbanks