THE YACWAG EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Tony Moulin Chairman
Chris Jackson Treasurer
Win Lowman Secretary
The Strawberry Line Society – Vacant
Congresbury Parish Council – Arthur Hacking
Yatton Parish Council – Roger Wood
What YACWAG is about
Our charitable aims are:
1. Creating and maintaining nature reserves in the parishes of Yatton and Congresbury
2. Increasing public awareness about nature and its conservation
* Fundraising for projects
* Monitoring local species, collecting data
* Engaging members and volunteers through events, walks and talks
* Protecting species locally
* Lobbying for change on issues that affect local biodiversity
YACWAG was formed to enable the purchase of our first field (Ten Acres) on Congresbury Moor. Funding from bodies as diverse as the HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND, YANSEC (now managed by VIRIDOR WASTE MANAGEMENT), THE LATTICE FOUNDATION, WESSEX WATER, YATTON PARISH COUNCIL, YEO VALLEY LIONS and the COUNTRYSIDE AGENCY has enabled this and successive purchases of land and the establishing of nature reserves:
* In 1999 we purchased a ten acre field on Congresbury Moor, on Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest.
* In 2000 we bought New Croft, a 17th century hay field, and watched its exciting reversion from a permanent pasture ‘green desert’ to a hay meadow. In this field, with grazing pressure relaxed, we now have burnet moths, three types of skipper, ringlet and marbled white butterflies breeding. Essex skipper was a new record in 2010.
* From 2000 we added Meakers, Phippens, Footmead and Nortons to form our Congresbury Moor reserve. Each of our fields has a different biodiversity. Congresbury Moor stands out for butterflies, kestrels and barn owls. Apart from New Croft, the other fields are managed as rough grassland, grazed by rare breed Dexter cattle, and the abundance of small mammals in the long grass has brought in breeding pairs of kestrels and barn owls. The aim of the land purchases was to create a patchwork of nature reserves over the two parishes.
* Footmead, a small field on Congresbury Moor, close to Gangwall, was purchased from the Society of Friends who had held the land since the 19th century and were sympathetic to
YACWAG’s aims of using the land for community benefit. Footmead is surrounded by high-quality rhynes from a biodiversity point of view.
* Stowey Reserve (two fields) was offered to YACWAG by a local resident and is important for its wild flowers. Its proximity to Yatton Schools makes it useful for field studies.
* Kenn Moor Reserve (two fields) was acquired through the support of local residents and by 2013 was providing habitat for 150 over-wintering snipe.
* Littlewood, a former 19th century plantation on Nailsea, Tickenham and Kenn Moor SSSI, holds a unique assemblage of ancient alder trees and flora and invertebrates that indicate the recent history of Kenn Moor. It is one of the few places on the peat moor which has not been ploughed, and is considerably drier than it was in 2003 when acquired by YACWAG. The aim of management of this tiny linear woodland is not to interfere too much with natural processes while improving the age structure of the trees. This has been done by protecting young trees from deer browsing and propagating some of the trees from cuttings which have then been re-introduced. Littlewood is monitored by YACWAG’s otter group, small mammal group and bird and bat groups and invertebrate surveys have been undertaken twice in ten years, as well as the occasional moth trapping.
In regard to the ‘maintaining’ part of our first charitable object, YACWAG also helps with practical work on land not in their ownership:
* On Cadbury Hill members occasionally assist with practical tasks as well as advising on management issues.
* The Strawberry Line Yatton – Congresbury section, which forms part of Biddle Street SSSI, is managed by YACWAG as part of its Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England and in conjunction with the owner, North Somerset Council. Work is largely carried out by contractors, but occasionally volunteers are able to assist. A regular breeding bird survey along the Strawberry Line Heritage Trail shows that the number of nesting birds has increased by 50 percent since 1999 – a great endorsement of YACWAG’s management of the ditches and tall riparian vegetation on a long rotation. Harvest mouse has also been found along these rough margins. Winter and breeding bird surveys are also carried out in other areas under Trevor Riddle’s leadership.
* YACWAG helps the Living Churchyard Project at St Mary’s Church, Yatton.
* The Friends of Yatton Station Garden are mainly YACWAG members who look after the station garden, advising and supporting wildlife-friendly management.
* A major project in 2012, mainly funded by the BIG TREE PLANT and local donations, marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with the planting of sixty trees on public land in Yatton and sixty trees at St Andrew’s School, Congresbury. YACWAG has an ongoing commitment to see these trees to maturity.
Links have also been forged with local groups such as Avon Wildlife Trust, Yatton Horticultural Society, North Somerset Butterfly House, Ya BeeP (Natural Beekeepers in the Yatton area) and the Cobthorn Trust. YACWAG’s Environmental Education Fund provides opportunities to influence and resource work in the community to promote or protect biodiversity such as volunteer-led projects at Congresbury Children’s Centre, local schools and groups. YACWAG works closely with Natural England and North Somerset Council and has a close relationship with Chris Sperring of the Hawk and Owl Trust, who has provided invaluable support and encouragement since YACWAG’s foundation. We have been glad to advise other local groups setting up including Backwell Environment Trust and Nailsea Environment and Wetland Trust.
Over the past fifteen years YACWAG has been evolving to meet the needs of members’ growing and developing interests. An otter group was launched in 2012 following the demise of the Avon Wildlife Trust North Somerset otter group, and important work has been funded by National Lottery Awards for All to enable YACWAG’s Bat Group to continue the Bat Mapping Project established in 2004. A Small Mammals group surveys and monitors our nature reserves, leading to the exciting discovery of both harvest mouse and water shrew, both uncommon in this area. Dormouse boxes made by Congresbury Cubs have been put up on Cadbury Hill and are monitored twice a year by volunteers led by a licensed ecologist. YACWAG members are also assisting Avon Wildlife Trust at Kings Wood, Congresbury.
YACWAG will continue to work with other similar organisations to create and maintain nature reserves and to further awareness of, and interest in, nature conservation. If funding becomes available we would wish to extend our landholding, in particular where it makes a strategic difference.