Bid to pool nature groups’ resources

Zoe Watson (centre) and members of the Friends of Mareham Pastures.
Zoe Watson (centre) and members of the Friends of Mareham Pastures.

There is a call for locally based conservation groups to team up, pooling volunteer manpower and resources.

There is a call for locally based conservation groups to team up, pooling volunteer manpower and resources.

After 13 years as secretary and then chairman of the Friends of Mareham Pastures Local Nature Reserve in Sleaford, Zoe Watson has stepped down having moved to live in Helpringham, replaced by interim chairman Mark Suffield.

But with this changing of the guard for the reserve, comes a new focus to sustain the future of conservation volunteering around the town. Group secretary Kathy Blythe said: “We would like to set up a volunteering resource for Sleaford.

“We have a solid core group of around a dozen volunteers that always come and support our events but we would always welcome more to help keep the place how we all love it.

“We are moving away from events such as family days and easter egg hunts to site maintenance, promotion of wildlife and wildlflower management.”

Mrs Blythe said local groups such as the Lollycocks Field nature reserve volunteers, the Slea Rivercare clean up group, Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and the Sleaford Navigation Trust, all have resources that could be combined as a pool of manpower and equipment.

She said: “Our volunteering is mainly winter focussed once a month but some people might want to do more and that could be coordinated with the other groups to make a coherent offer for would-be volunteers.”

Visit the group’s website at www.marehampastures.co.uk.

The Friends were busy putting up bird boxes on Sunday for the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Box week.

Matthew Davey, the county council’s Environment and Community Projects Officer, said Mareham Pastures was by far the most popular site he oversees.

He said of Mrs Watson: “Over the last 12 years, without Zoe’s ideas, energy and organisational skills we would not have achieved half as much as we all have.

“All of these events have brought thousands of new visitors to Mareham Pastures and hopefully changed their lives in a small way for the better.”

She also secured numerous grants which helped pay for sculptures, seating and events.

Mrs Watson said that all the major planting projects on site are now complete. “Before we started it was horrendous “ she said. “People used to ride motorbikes across here, there was no path and you couldn’t access it if it was wet. Now it is family friendly and the majority of people in Sleaford know of it and use it.”