The Conservation Fund is made up with donations from Friends of Shropshire Hills AONB subscriptions, the Millichope Foundation and individual contributions. Grants are awarded by the Shropshire Hills AONB Trust.
Grants were awarded to the following projects in 2020-21:
Restoring Roadside Verges
Grants were awarded to three village communities to enhance their roadside verges. Although individual projects, they offer each other advice and share knowledge and good practice.
All Stretton Village Society – grant £1,000
Following consultation on ways to improve the village, the community decided they would like to re-wild the roadside verge between All Stretton and Church Stretton, creating a wildflower-rich corridor for wildlife. The project will involve surveying and mapping the verge to establish what plants currently grow. The surveys will provide the opportunity to train volunteers in plant identification. Plugs of hay rattle will be planted and locally sourced wildflower seed scattered.
Edgton Village Meeting – grant £1,000
Restoring the roadside verges in Edgton started a couple of years ago, supported by the Conservation Fund. This further grant has been awarded to buy wildflower plugs and seeds to improve damaged verges and to extend verge restoration around the village. The project will also re-survey the verges previously mapped to record changes. Himalayan Balsam will be removed from verges and a plan to manage this invasive plant will be explored, if necessary. Discussions with Shropshire Council Highway Department continue regarding verge management and cutting regime to enhance the verges for wildlife.
Little Stretton Village Society – grant £795.50
The aim is to preserve and enhance the roadside verges and hedgerows in the village to provide valuable habitat for plants, insects and small mammals. The village ‘Wildflower Verges Group’ has bought together range of people who previously didn’t know each other, and it is hoped that wildflower rich verges will give villagers a sense of wellbeing. The grant will support a professional survey of all the village verges and hedgerows to draw up a plan for future work. These surveys will also be a training opportunity for volunteers. Cutting, raking, scarifying and seeding the verges will also be undertaken by volunteers. Photographs of the verges and hedgerows will also be taken as a record to refer to in the future.
Grassland for Curlew
Curlew Country - grant £2,000
This project is trialling different grassland management techniques to improve suitability for breeding curlew. Working with volunteer farming partners in the Shropshire Hills, the project will trial and cost alternative and novel mowing regimes to vary the height of grass. The aim is to provide a better food source for the curlew chicks and greater protection from some predators. The results will be used to inform future management and include costs per acre per operation.
Exploring Wild Woods
Lightfoot Enterprises - grant £1,900
This project introduces secondary school pupils at Bishop’s Castle Community College to the diversity of woodlands, demonstrating how they can be managed for enjoyment, biodiversity and for wood fuel production. The students visit different woodland sites in the AONB to carry out practical activities including tree planting, building shelters, woodland management (cutting and logging), a fungi foray and exploring woodland wildlife. The young people work in teams, working respectfully and safely together. The project will also be sharing its knowledge and activities with a group of teachers who have set up Marches Climate Education Group at a workshop being held in Hereford.
Harvesting Meadow Plant Seed for Sward Enhancement
Marches Meadow Group - grant £2,000
The grant is supporting the purchase of a seed harvester to collect meadow plant seed from local species-rich meadows. The seed will be used on suitable areas of currently species-poor grasslands, including Marches Meadow Group members’ fields, lawns, road verges, public open spaces, school grounds and churchyards in and around the Shropshire Hills. The aims are to increase the number and area of species-rich grasslands and increase the opportunities for meadow plants and animals to move between existing meadows. Volunteers will be able to help with site preparation, seed sowing and subsequent management of the sites.
Save our Curlew
Shropshire Ornithological Society - grant £2,000
This is a joint partnership project with the Upper Clun and Clee Hill Community Wildlife Groups. The project aims to improve Curlew breeding success in the Upper Clun and Clee hills area, through action on the ground: finding nests and putting electric fences round them to protect the eggs from predation and agricultural activities, then fitting radio tags to chicks as soon as they hatch, and track them to find out how they use the landscape, and what happens to them. 70+ volunteers from the two community wildlife groups will help with sightings and surveys. Understanding the reasons for low levels of chick survival is the key to an effective local and national conservation plan.
Craven Arms Young Rangers
South Shropshire Youth Forum - grant £1,684
20 young people, aged 10-18, will help to develop a management/ activity plan for a local woodland site. They will identify what is in the woodland, what is the potential to improve habitat and what practical work needs doing to make a training base for future Young Ranger activity. The six woodland activities days will involve tree and plant identification, mapping species and places of interest, clearing and creating space for a base and better access.
Mammal & Bat Recording
Abdon District Community Wildlife Group - grant £300
A small grant was awarded to enable the Community Wildlife Group (CWG) to purchase a bat detector and identification guides. With help from Shropshire Bat Group and Mammal Group, the CWG plan to record the bat and mammal species in their area. Other local CWGs will be welcome to borrow the detector.