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Making space for wildlife

Issued: 9 May 2024

Work to enhance Salcombe’s Hangar Marsh nature reserve has been completed, with part of the site reopening to the public this month.

This is part of South Hams District Council’s ongoing commitment to address biodiversity loss across the District. The Council declared this a priority within their Council Plan and they are thrilled to showcase this as just some of the excellent work which is currently being delivered with the community in the South Hams.

The small wetland reserve, located behind North Sands beach and car park, includes a sizable pond, reedbeds and other wildlife habitats. The pond has been restored, the reedbeds are actively being conserved, and woody leaky dams have been created along the stream to help manage water levels in the wetland.

A replacement section of boardwalk has been built, leading to a new bird hide next to the pond. Interpretation boards giving information about the reserve are also being updated and installed.

The reserve, owned and managed by the District Council had funds secured in 2023 amounting to £20k from Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL). The funding, administered by South Devon National Landscapes, were to restore and enhance the almost a hectare of wetland and involved 15 community volunteer days.

Local social enterprise ParkLife South West has been central in managing the restoration of the site.

Cllr John McKay, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change & Biodiversity said: “This is exactly the kind of conservation work to increase biodiversity that we’re more actively involved in and is just one of very many projects we’ll be sharing with residents in the future.

“Although this is only a small site, wetland habitats are very important, supporting a wide range of specialist wildlife species. These reed bed sites lock-in large amounts of carbon, helping to reduce the impact of climate change.

“We’re excited about the opportunities projects like this one offer, not just for improving biodiversity, but also so our communities can come together to work side-by-side with us and our partners on climate change, biodiversity and conservation work. The bird hide provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy wetland wildlife up close.”

ParkLife South West is an organisation that supports environmental volunteering, and a combination of volunteers from the local community and visiting educational groups have helped out with conservation projects at the marsh. This includes young people from Dartington-based Lifeworks, and students from Ivybridge Community College who worked at the site to help create the woody dams.

ParkLife Director, Keith Rennells, said: “The site lends itself to community activity and is a great place for visiting groups to learn about nature. We would like the community to help us manage and maintain the reserve, with projects like cutting and raking the reedbeds.”

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (FiPL) is funded by Defra and delivered by protected landscapes i.e National Landscapes and National Parks.  It started in July 2021 and is set to continue until March 2025 as part of the government's Agricultural Transition Plan. It funds land managers, like the Council, and farmers for projects that deliver for at least one of the following - Climate, Nature, People or Place.

John Yeoman Chair of the FiPL Local Assessment Panel, commented: “This project has enabled the land manager to protect a unique site in Salcombe. It gives volunteers the opportunity to be involved and makes it possible for locals and visitors to enjoy this special area. The improvements to the boardwalk, bird hide and interpretation panels will help with the understanding and enjoyment of the area. All this addresses one of the main outcomes of the scheme, ‘people’ and to encourage their involvement in the environment.”

The Panel made up of farmers, with representatives from Natural England, RSPB, the Environment Agency and FWAG meets every two months and still has funds to distribute this year. Further information about criteria for funding, past projects and how to apply  is available at www.southdevon-nl.org.uk/farming-in-protected-landscape-programme-2021-2025.

Access to Hangar Marsh is to the back of North Sands car park. A short section of boardwalk leads to the pond and hide, but beyond that the wetland reserve is not accessible to the public.

For more information about volunteering at Hangar Marsh, or educational visits: please contact the team at parklifesw@gmail.com

ENDS

Posted in SHDC.