As a regular walker around Woodside Farm in Shipley Park, I still see an abundance of wildlife in the areas not yet fenced off and grazed- but for how long?
I recently wrote to The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) expressing my sadness at how the loss of the wilderness would have an impact on the birds and animals living there and received a response from the reserves manager outlining the long-term plans for this farming enterprise.
While I look forward to seeing the return of meadow pipits, skylarks, water voles, yellow hammers and wild ﬂowers in the future, and I love the wood sculptures, I am not convinced that this project is fulﬁlling the main aim of a wildlife trust in caring for ‘local’ wildlife already in situ.
I am saddened by the removal of established habitats as brambles are scrubbed out and more trees are felled. Some coppicing may be needed to encourage more ﬂowers and insects — but this agricultural grant scheme has resulted, I am informed, in the removal of more scrub and trees than initially wished for by the trust.
Consequently, this will only destroy more of the habitats that the trust should be safe guarding, I feel.
While the aim is not to increase the livestock above six breeding cows the impact on the established wildlife in areas currently being cleared is serious.
The species there now such as brown hares, foxes, toads, other small mammals and even the elusive, visiting woodcock will all lose their homes and food source, I fear.
The Grasshopper hopper warbler is on the RSPB red list for endangered birds and this regular visitor to the wild areas of tussocks and hawthorn bushes will be in for a feather-raising shock when it returns in April if the clearing goes too far.
They once frequented the Mapperley meadow but alas, since the cattle moved in, I doubt they have returned. So, rather than help to increase numbers of this rare bird the trust, it could be argued, are creating conditions that may well eliminate it in this locality.
A main aim of the DWT published in their literature is to ‘Promote and protect local wildlife.’ This surely should be their main priority before putting the meat of Scottish cattle on our dinner plates and building forts in ﬁelds that would not have looked out of place in Custer’s last stand!
With 74 hectares to work with a more substantial ‘set aside ‘ programme, used successfully by conservation friendly farmers, would have been tenable, I believe.
Certainly, there should be more of a balance between looking after what we have now and the re introduction of new species in the future. Manage but don’t over manage as Mother Nature can sometimes do a marvellous job without too much interference. Wildlife Trusts do wonderful, inspiring work but I am not convinced about the changes at Shipley.
Catherine Ave, Ilkeston.