All meetings take place at the Quaker/Friends Meeting House, St John’s Street,Bury St Edmunds:
Tuesday 7pm 7th March 2017
Glenda Cole has proved herself an expert photographer of the Rivers Lark and Linnet and its wildlife and she regularly posts her pictures on Facebook and Instagram. She will present a collection of photos taken on the Water Meadows associated with our rivers and talks about how she goes about trying to capture the best shot of her subject each time.
7pm Thursday 29th June 2017
Gary Watson, responsible for coastal protection for East Anglia, Environment Agency. East Anglia has suffered from coastal erosion for many centuries. What are the current challenges and how are they being met! What changes might we expect over the next 50 years?
7pm Wednesday 20th September 2017
Mike Dean Vice-Chairman, Butterfly Conservation, the national organisation to support butterfly conservation. Suffolk is an important county for butterflies, many of which can be seen near our rivers and streams. Mike is well qualified to talk on Suffolk’s butterflies having chaired the county group for 10 years
Wednesday 29th November 7pm
(preceded by AGM)
Martyn Taylor, Chair of Bury Society and local professional guide and author
“Two Birds” is the title of the talk which will range over the many interesting things Martyn has discovered on the Lark and Linnet
A wetland can be areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Some wetlands are naturally occurring, others have been created over the centuries, primarily for efficient irrigation and to ensure a regular water supply.
What makes wetlands so ecologically important is their biodiversity. Their unique and wide ranging combination of plant and animal life plays a crucial role in the balance of nature. Wetlands have a number of functions that directly impact human life, the importance of which is now being properly understood. Whereas they have previously been seen as economically unproductive pieces of land and therefore have been drained and developed; the impact of such interference is now being felt.
Wetlands are vital for human survival. They are among the world’s most productive environments; cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.
We know that we have a potential flood crisis on our hands in the UK and the irony is that nature has the solution and in many cases we have created the problem! Water is our very lifeblood and managed properly we need not experience the swings of drought and flood. Yes, the climate is changing, and yes we do need to tackle that too. However, in the short to medium term we can do much to help nature restore the balance between necessary rainwater and damaging floods.
Habitats such as upland bogs and moors, woodlands, wetlands and species-rich grasslands act as giant sponges, absorbing and holding water and slowing down water run-off into rivers.
Rather than drain wetlands to build housing and then have to build in drainage ditches and watch them flood- we need to preserve our wetlands and let them do their job! We need to revise our view of the economic worth of these crucial natural reserves in terms of how much it costs us NOT having them! There have been a number of studies on this – some more impenetrable than others to understand! A report from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is summed up in a readable way by this Guardian article http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jun/02/uk-green-spaces-value
It is not just the bogs, marches, peat fens that help with flood control, but the habitats that thrive on them.
When peat becomes completely saturated and unable to absorb any more water, surface pools and peatland vegetation – including sedge meadows and some types of forest – help to slow and reduce runoff. Similarly, floodplains alongside the lower reaches of major rivers, such as the Nile, Yangtze and Danube allow heavy rainfall or spring snowmelt to spread out slowly. When the peat bogs are drained or the floodplains reduced, the risk of flash floods is increased.
You have probably seen many pictures of under developed countries and their polluted water supplies. You may well be extremely thankful that here in the UK we are able to take clean water for granted- turn on the tap and out it comes. Around the world, water treatment plants work 24/7 to ensure clean water is available to the world’s population. Nature knows how to do this without complex technology! Wetlands act as the Earth’s filters, cleaning up water in a number of ways. For example, nitrogen in water is transformed to harmless nitrogen gas, nutrients are taken up by wetland plants in the water. Wetlands remove pollutants such as phosphorous, heavy metals and toxins which are trapped in the sediments of the wetlands. In addition, nitrogen and heavy metals are incorporated into peat during its formation.
Here’s a fascinating example of the economic benefit of wetlands,
New York City found that it could avoid spending USD $3-8 billion on new waste water treatment plants by investing USD $1.5 billion in the purchase of land around the reservoirs upstate. This land purifies the water supply for free.
Water meadows are quite distinct from other forms of wet grassland. Engineered topography, weirs, channels, sluices and sloping ‘panes’ of grass enabled a management regime that maximised productivity. The operation of water meadows required considerable skill from the ‘drowners’ who used to tend them and control the flows, sequentially flooding (or ‘drowning’) and draining the meadows throughout the year to maximise early growth of grass and the production of hay and summer grazing. The control of flows harnessed the warmth and nutrient-bearing silt from river water, using it to irrigate and control some weeds. This method of controlled water flow, critically maintaining a thin film of moving and oxygenated water that is not allowed to stand and waterlog the soil, distinguishes water meadows from other forms of wet grassland.
Water meadows were very much a feature of agriculture from the 16th to early 19th century. They helped overcome the gap during March/April when livestock feed was scarce; winter feed used up and new grass yet to emerge. The grass produced by water meadows was rich in nutrients and grew earlier so allowing farmers to keep their cattle fed all year round. Changes in agricultural methods, mechanisation and the use of chemicals gradually made the labour intensive practice of maintaining water meadows largely redundant.
Did you know that the River Lark and the River Linnet are chalk streams under threat unless we make sure they are protected? Chalk streams provide water to households and industry by way of an aquifier – an underground source of water. However, unless we take care of them this valuable source of water will, literally, dry up! See the video below for more information
“Protecting England’s Chalk Streams” – a Video from the World Wildlife Fund
Over three quarters of England’s unique chalk streams are failing to meet the required ‘good ecological status’ threatening some of the country’s most precious and irreplaceable countryside according to a report by WWF-UK.
A legacy of over abstraction and neglect has left chalk streams in Great Britain in a poor state!
There are only around 200 chalk streams in the world, and 85% of these are found in England, so we have a special responsibility to look after them. A combination of geology and climate means that our chalk streams have characteristic features that support special wildlife habitats and species.
As the weather improves many of us feel more inclined to get out into the fresh air- walking is so much better without six layers of clothes! You may have made a New year’s resolution to get more exercise then lost enthusiasm when January and February winds and rain made staying indoors seem a better alternative. Perhaps you started at your local gym and lost heart after a while? Well, don’t give up on getting fit, just try something a little less strenuous, but just as effective; walking…
Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It’s underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.
The great thing about walking as exercise is, you can do it alone or with friends or loved ones, your choice. You don’t have to get a group of people together for a team, or even one person as a partner, you can be solitary or sociable.
If you want some time alone to clear your head, then walking in the countryside is a great way to get rid of those cobwebs and stress. if you are finding it hard to spend time with a loved one, suggest a walk. It can be great just you and your partner, walking, in silence that is companionable, or chatting about the day. Continue reading “Walking is Good for You!”
There is now a new Local Plan for Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding St Edmundsbury area intended to run from 2014-2031. Following the Public Examination earlier this year where the Bury Water Meadows Group and local residents persuaded the Planning Inspector to not proceed with development of Leg of Mutton, the following words describe the only changes possible for Leg of Mutton:-
“15 Ha of land to the west of Rougham Road is allocated for use as amenity public open space for informal outdoor recreational use and associated facilities. Any development on the land will be limited to development directly related to that use, and must not have a detrimental impact on the setting of the Bury St Edmunds town centre conservation area in accordance with Policy BV26”
Thanks to everyone who has joined the Group and added their support in recent months!