About our wonderful wetland

Why was it made?
In 2007, Pershore suffered devastating summer flooding.  Unlike the floods that come in winter, these were not just caused by the Avon bursting its banks, but by sudden and prolonged heavy rain hitting the town and overwhelming small watercourses and drains.

In response to this, local people, Wychavon District Council and Pershore Town Council came up with idea to create a wetland that could soak up and store some of this excess surface flood water, and Avon Meadows was the perfect location.

Why a wetland? 
Wetlands are a disappearing habitat. It’s estimated that since 1945, the UK has lost 40% of its reed beds and wet meadows and those that are left have become increasingly isolated from each other in a fragmented landscape.  These natural wet areas perform a vital function, they act as buffers from flooding, soaking up and slowing down flood water as well as helping to clean contaminated water before it can get back into our streams and rivers.  They are also home to some rare and threatened plants and animals, so increasing the amount of wetland habitat and linking them together is good for people and great for wildlife too.

After months of community consultation and investigations, the diggers moved in. Ponds, pools and scrapes were dug, new ditches were excavated and old ones cleared out. Pipes that used to transport water from surface water drains straight into the river were diverted into the wetlands to allow this dirty water to be filtered and cleaned before heading back into the natural environment.


The following spring and summer, hundreds of local volunteers and school children came and planted almost 50,000 reeds to help create a new wetland habitat.  A new boardwalk was built to allow everyone to walk through the wetlands and enjoy the birds, butterflies and dragonflies that soon began to colonise their fabulous new home.

The Friends of Avon Meadows were formed by local people to support the management and care of the wetlands and to encourage more people to explore and enjoy this green gem on their doorstep. To find out more about the Friends of Avon Meadows and how you can get involved, see the About Us page in the left hand menu.

All of this work was made possible with funding from Natural England through the Wetland Vision scheme, Pershore Market Town Partnership, Pershore Town Council and Wychavon District Council.


What next?
You might think that the work has all been done, but wetlands are dynamic, changing habitats that need looking after if they’re to stay healthy and keep our water clean and our wildlife thriving.

Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding and the support of Wychavon District Council, Pershore Town Council and the Friends of Avon Meadows, the Wetlands for All project is delivering three years’ activity and habitat improvement to encourage and inspire people of all ages to get out and enjoy their local wetlands.

Wetlands for All is improving footpaths around the meadows so that everyone will have chance to get to the heart of the wetlands and experience the sounds of spring birdsong and see the herons, wildfowl and warblers that have made the reedbeds their home. We’ll also look at some areas for people to simply sit, rest and soak up the peace and tranquillity.

While most of the habitat creation has worked well, some have not been as successful as we would have liked.  The wader scrape, which should be a shallow, muddy area attractive to birds like Curlew, Oystercatcher and Lapwing has become overgrown and the muddy edges that should provide food have gradually grassed over. 

The way to put this right is to scrape off the top layer of overgrowth and build some small islands to increase the potential for muddy margins, as well as joining up the ditch surrounding the scrape to keep out unwanted visitors like foxes and over excited dogs who can scare off ground nesting birds.

We are also organising events and guided walks to explore the bugs and beasts of the wetlands and meadows, as well as doing lots of practical site management like laying some of the boundary hedges, building willow bird watching screens and cutting back some of those 50,000 reeds that have grown so well.

If you want to get involved in looking after Avon Meadows, you can join our regular weekend working party.  It’s a great way to keep fit and meet new friends as well as know that you’re making a positive difference for your local environment.

So many young people don’t get outside enough; in fact some environmental organisations have coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder to describe how disconnected children have become from the natural world. 

A big part of Wetlands for All is to break down some of the barriers for families, schools and young people who might find it difficult to get outside by providing supported school visits, family fun days, volunteering opportunities and outdoor craft skills for young people.

It’s not just the young that benefit from green space, we all do.  It’s been measured that simply living near a pleasant, wildlife- rich space can make you happier and healthier, so imagine what going for a walk or taking part in a wildlife survey could do for you! We’ll have training courses open to everyone so you can learn to be an expert bug identifier or simply find out a bit more about butterflies and moths for your own pleasure. 

Keep an eye on this website for courses, events and volunteering opportunities on offer.

Of course, we want everyone to know how special Avon Meadows are.  We’ll be putting in welcome signs, way marked walking routes, information panels that show you what you can see and audio interpretation to help you identify that bird song.

If you’re interested in any aspect of the Wetlands for All project or would like to get involved in any of the volunteering activities, please contact the project officer,
Liz Etheridge by email or call 01386 565217






                            
The Friends of Avon Meadows CIO is a Registered Charity, registered number 1174083

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