Investigating Biodiversity in Stretton’s Wetlands
Since 2011 a small planning group has had the aim of developing the Stretton wetlands as part of the Town Plan. The group has worked with the various landowners of a little used marshy area on the edge of Church Stretton (SO451933). A detailed Phase 1 report was carried out in 2012 which made several recommendations including the building of scrapes and improvements to the footpath which crosses through the wetlands.
The 1841 tithe map shows that several fields were called Eel Pool. The Environment Agency dredges the Quinny Brook regularly to maintain the flow and new storm drains were built in 2015 when a new sewerage system was installed. However bore hole surveys in 1961 indicated a layer of peat between 6 to 12 feet thick under a thin level of topsoil (1 foot) in some parts, indicating that much of the area has been natural wetland for many centuries. Walking in certain areas, and in the brook, can prove somewhat hazardous!
Under the oversight of SACWG, a small group of expert ecologists and volunteers, coordinated by Isabel Carter, carried out a number of biodiversity surveys during 2016. These included amphibians (Phase II), reptiles, flora (Phase II), birds, mammals, dragonflies, moths and butterflies. Among all the findings were three UK notable invertebrate species – the micro moth, Prochoreutis myllerana, the ground beetle, Anthracus consputus, and the frog hopper, Aphrophora major. Camera traps for possible sightings of otter and water vole were also used but, alas, with no success to date.
Phase 2 habitat surveys are being carried out for amphibians, reptiles and flora. In addition careful observations and surveys are in process for birds, mammals (notably otter and water voles), dragonflies, moths, butterflies and bats. All expertise has been provided voluntarily and a small group of volunteers are enjoying exploring the biodiversity (with permission from the landowners for access).
On the basis of the surveys and data submitted, the central area of the wetlands was awarded Wildlife Site status in January 2017 by Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Surveying will continue during 2017 for birds and water voles in particular.
During 2017, SACWG is launching a publicity and fundraising campaign to improve footpath access and improve several small pools on the site. This will hopefully encourage community awareness of the area, whilst at the same time enhancing the biodiversity. At present, the footpath become inaccessible due to flooding for several months of the year.
For more information on this SACWG project, contact Isabel Carter.
Page updated: 15/04/2017 by AJA