DEAN GREEN TEAM

Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire

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Otter Spraint at Wigpool GWT Reserve - March 2017

Beavers at Greathough Brook - March 2017

Waxwings in Cinderford - January 2017

 

Otter Spraint at Wigpool GWT Reserve - March 2017

Otter Spraint has been found at Wigpool GWT Reserve where there is a large lake. This is good news as very few other heathland reserves can boast diversity that includes otters!

 

Beavers at Greathough Brook - March 2017

Beavers could make a return to the wilds of Gloucestershire for the first time in hundreds of years to help environmentalists stop a village flooding. The Forestry Commission are considering releasing the large toothed animals into a brook above Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean as part of efforts to protect the village which was badly flooded in 2012.

Trials have shown that beavers can create dams capable of retaining about 1,000 tonnes of water which would otherwise cascade down to villages like Lydbrook which runs along a natural valley leading down from the Forest of Dean to the River Wye. As well as holding back water, the beavers are also said to increase biodiversity in woodland areas with some claiming their activities can help many rare species thrive.

Forestry Commission chiefs have invited expert Derek Gow to tell residents in Upper Lydbrook and Lydbrook how experts believe putting beavers into Greathough Brook in the Forest could help halt water gushing down the hillsides. Although some engineering work has been carried out to stop the floods of 2012 which wrecked homes and businesses, many believe it also needs natural solutions to slow the flow of the water.

Like the wild boar, which has created bitter divides in the Forest, the beaver has critics as well as supporters and until now they have only been released in captive colonies or as part of very carefully controlled trials. Some farmers and anglers claim that contrary to their reputation for restoring natural woodland habitats, the beavers can damage the landscape, affect fish migration and carry disease.

However supporters such as Mr Gow dismiss such arguments and insist the benefits have been widely demonstrated in Europe and America and they are backing the reintroduction of the species into the wild for environmental reasons.

Mr Gow told the Financial Times: "For years, the whole idea of reintroducing beavers has been bogged down by myth and nonsense. It's not as though we are looking at reintroducing a Tyrannosaurus rex that eats children. People have the idea that because beavers have huge teeth they chop their way through forests like furry chainsaws, but they're a creative, not a destructive, force. They open up the river banks to many other species: plants, butterflies, beetles, amphibians and fish. These are the building blocks of life, the species that support others."

And the animal lover who imported his own beavers from Bavaria, said there is no doubt that they purify fresh water and reduce floods by trapping and slowing extreme flows. "Beavers have been managing water for millions of years; they're adapted to do a far better job than us," he said. "We can no longer pay to maintain flood walls and flood defences so beavers are a rational option when it comes to water management and flood control."

But he concedes that despite his impatience during years of carefully managed trials, any official reintroduction into the wild would be slow and cautious and require a thorough scientific monitoring of impact and public opinion.

Vegetarian Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain in the 16th century but over the last ten years have been slowly reintroduced into managed areas in Scotland, Devon the Cotswolds and Wales. Animals lovers say in areas where they have been brought back, there has been a proliferation of plants, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs birds and Devon Wildlife Trust say the only wild colony allowed in England has encouraged tourists to flock to the area to see them.

Waxwings in Cinderford - January 2017

There was a nice surprise for the people of Cinderford as the photos below taken by one of our team members show the Waxwings behind the Lidl car park on Wednesday, 4th January 2017. There were about 9 on the Wednesday and about 24 on the Thursday and they were feeding from the berries on a Rowan tree.

Waxwing (Bombycillidae) do not breed in the UK, but is a winter visitor, in some years in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population on its breeding grounds gets too big for the food available. The first British arrivals each winter are usually seen on the east coast from Scotland to East Anglia, but birds move inland in search of food, increasing the chances of seeing one inland from October to March

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