Beardshaw backs campaign to save flood-hit nature reserves

TV gardener Chris Beardshaw is backing an urgent campaign to help save a Gloucestshire landscape that was devastated by this summer’s floods.

The Gloucestshire Wildlife Trust fears thousands of birds and mammals were killed in the disaster that hit the Severn Hams nature reserves. It hopes to raise £300,000 to pay contractors to clean up the mess before winter, to enable wildlife species to return to the area and breed there next year. Beardshaw, who opened a visitor centre in Coombe Hill Nature Reserve, near Tewkesbury, three years ago, urged the people to support the trust’s efforts. He said: “It is understandably easy to overlook the devastation to wildlife habitats caused by these terrible floods — but it will take a concerted human effort to assist nature in repairing the damage.” Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust chief executive Dr Gordon McGlone added: “The scene there is shocking. Everything’s covered in filthy brown slime, the ditches are choked by debris and the stench of rotting vegetation is overwhelming. “But worst of all is the silence. It’s breeding season, and normally this area would be busy with wildlife, birds and insects, but there’s nothing there. It’s a wasteland.” Species lost in the floods include ground-nesting birds like lapwings, skylarks and redshank. “Low scrub nesters” such as chiff chaffs and willow warblers have also been washed away. Small mammals like harvest mice have been lost, as have many water voles. Larger mammals might have been able to swim away but the lack of joined-up habitats meant they had nowhere to escape to. McGlone said the trust aims eventually to connect the nature reserves with adjoining landscapes to create “one huge wildlife highway”. He added: “Only then will vulnerable species stand a chance of survival, especially if severe weather events like this happen more frequently due to climate change.” * For more information on the appeal, call 01452 383333

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