Thursday 28 July 2011

Nature Conservation Importance of Bradford Diocese Area

Did you know that the Area Covered by the Bradford Diocese has a greater area of "Site of Special Scientific Interest" than nearly every other diocese in Britain?

(Download a leaflet of the information of this post - to be added)

It is really important for Nature Conservation.

If you have appreciated the view from a mountain top or the bird singing in the park you will appreciate Nature Conservation.

The area covered by the Bradford Diocese includes half of the Yorkshire Dales National Park - (which covers well over one third of the Diocese) and in our area well over one fifth of the YDNP is Site of Special Scientific Interest...

So roughly speaking about one tenth of the Diocese is Site of Special Special Scientific Interest.

We should be very proud of that.

I have got these figures from 2 maps -
Map of Bradford Diocese -
there is a larger version
lower down this posting
with explanation
1. The map of the Bradford Diocese gained from
 2. The publication A  Biodiversity Audit of Yorkshire and the Humber (1999)

What is special about our habitats? Here are some examples.

We are at the southern limit for many plants in Britain. The high hills and limestone areas in the NW of our diocese have Arctic-Alpine relict species.  e.g. Purple saxifrage.

Half the limestone pavement in mainland Britain lies within our diocese.
(Limestone pavement is a European priority habitat)

We have areas of Peat Bog (Peat Bog is European priority habitat -) Some peat-bogs are of more nature conservation value than others - but all store carbon.

We have bluebell woods - bluebells are rare in mainland Europe.

We should be very proud of our wildlife habititats.

It is also a big responsibility - we need to protect what we have for future generations.

A Plantlife survey has shown that  over the past 100 to 150 years on average 1 species has been lost every one or two years from most counties.
And sadly this is demonstrated for the two atlases which cover our area.

We need to protect what is left.

I also feel we need to encourage people to develop the skills to recognise the wild plants.  Join a wildlife group!

Most biology teachers do no know the names of many wildflowers - so it is up to you to make an effort yourself!

This weekend I will be attending the 150th celebrations of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union, - when we will have a special field Meeting at Malham Tarn. The YNU has individual Naturalists as members and it is also an "umbrella" organisation for over 40 different Natural History societies in Yorkshire. It will be wonderful to meet other enthusiasts and experts who can tell me what the lichens growing on the trees are called, what the bugs and hoverflies on the flowers are called. (see Malham Tarn near the centre of the diocese in the Craven Limestone complex SSSI)

Map of Bradford Diocese -

The area at the north is in Cumbria so therefore I have no data from the Yorkshire and Humber Biodiversity forum - but there is lots of SSSI there.

The area to the west is in the forest of Bowland and in Lancashire. there will be a little SSSI there.

Monday 25 July 2011

Ingleton EcoCongregation + Bishop Nick Baines

(Later notes added by editor; On Sun 19th April 2015 St Mary's  unveiled its 2nd Eco-Congregation Award . Now (2020) it has gained Eco Church Awards.

Bishop Nick Baines unveils the EcoCongregation Plaque at Ingleton Parish  Church
On Sunday 24th  July 2011 Bishop Nick Baines unveiled the  Eco-Congregation  plaque which has been awarded to Ingleton Parish Church . (See above)

Ingleton is 10 miles from Settle

I attended the service, which was a confirmation and baptism service, and took these pictures afterwards.

Before I describe what they have done to gain the award, and say a little about the church, I'll just remind you and myself some reasons why the environment is important:- (And perhaps the fact that the USA could go "bankrupt" in a few days time might highlight the fact that the statements  below can affect us)
  •  One fifth of the the world's plants are under threat of extinction
  • If all the people in the world used the same resources as we do in the UK we would need three planets
  • The world population has risen in 12 years from 6 billion in Oct 1999 to 7 billion come Halloween this year of 2011
  • Forests are home to 80% of our land animals and plants
  • £100 can buy /save an acre of rainforest - (the size of a football pitch or 16 tennis courts)
  • Soil erosion is taking place much faster than soil formation and threatens to leave the world hungry

By joining in the Eco-Congregation Award scheme, churches can encourage their congregations and others to take more care of the environment.

So what did they do to gain the award?
They carried out a green audit. As a result of this they carried out many activities. They have plans to make the church better insulated. the proposed modifications to the church will be from reclaimed material where possible. They have a botany project ongoing in the churchyard.

Now my pictures.  The church, and Ingleton  is scenic, and the vegetation green due to the high rainfall of the area....

At the top of the wooded slope to the north I was excited to discovered this plant:-.. Sand leek. Allium scorodoprasm. (Click on the picture to enlarge). This is quite rare nationally - a man coming up to one of my courses from the south has specifically asked where it can be found so he can look at it. But a look at the BSBI distribution map shows it has its main area is in Yorkshire and the NW of England.

In the church they had put out some environment leaflets and I added a second display box with some more leaflets - including the CEL August 2011 Prayer Guide which had just been emailed out the previous day.  I was able to give one to the bishop.

In the service we remembered the grief of the Norwegian people.
For the excellent meal and trifles afterwards we were invited to donate to the Africa drought appeal, thorugh Tear Fund.

The bible readings for the day were the parables... the kingdom of heaven is like.. At the end Jesus said 13:51 "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes.".. and the bishop read this with the "Yes" sounding like the disciples really meant - "er no. "

He referred to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares which had been dealt with a week or two ago. And then the parable of the sower.. The sower did not only sow the seed only in those places where it would have maximum chance of germinating and growing. He threw it out generously. and so we should "throw out the gospel generously.. and leave it up to God to determine where it would germinate and grow.. 

Saturday 16 July 2011

Growing With Grace Open Day

Growing with Grace had agreed to put some of the Rainforest Fund Greeting Cards for Sale in their shop.
Today July 16th was their Open Day
Assembling at Growing with Grace
Permaculture magazine
Growing with Grace the Quaker Inspired Community Organic Glasshouses had three guided tours for their Open Day today.

There is a Share Launch (Closing Date end of the month).  They have just become a Community Run initiative in order to gain some financial investment so that they can have more workers to grow more food..

and to get the community involved..

Permaculture magazine this month features an article this week - as does the Craven Herald (local paper )

We were shown the forest Garden - a permaculture area.
The guide explained that this year the fruit trees - apricots and peaches had flowered well. They flower in February and March before our natural insect pollinators have built up populations.. The GWG people try and pollinate them with paintbrushes or by shaking the branches. This year a group in Clapham is keeping bees and they brought their hives - and they have had good crops of fruit this year.-

Forest Garden
Forest Garden

As we left the glasshouse we met two of the bee keepers.

They had come to put some fresh frames in as the bees had filled up all the available ones with honey combs and honey. This was the first time they had been able to take some honey from this hive. - Last year the hives were new and the bees needed all their  honey for winter.

Here are some of their apricots

Apricots for sale in the shop


Leeks with Apricot tree behind

A new group arrive to be shown round
 The green house that has been in use longest has the best and deepest soil. More compost is added each year. The Glasshouses take council green waste to make into compost.

Because they make the branches of the squashes or pumpkins
grow above ground level the fruit  will be hanging -
so that it avoids slugs and getting damp on the ground

Volunteers are useful for picking the runner beans
 - a nice shady job when it is sunny
A view through an open door reminds us that
we are near the fells of the Forest of Bowland

We were invited to taste the Rocket flowers
 - an interesting sharp oily taste
- but the green leaves (seen behind) are really hot.

Handing out the Rocket flowers

Our tour wast filmed ready for a DVD.
Here we are in the compost shed.
Making compost is farming soil microbes. 

Beyond the truck of compost is a green funnel - this is where the compost is filtered to remove twigs and plastic. It takes seven weeks to make the compost. It is then bagged and sold 3 bags for £10.


Young peach

So come and visit the Growing With Grace Glasshouses - on the main road between Settle and Ingleton
Use the bag scheme to order your vegetables. It is open seven days a week over summer, 10.30am-4.30pm Or support their stall on Settle market Place on Tuesdays.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Austwick Church Cemetery - a haven for relict hay meadow wildflowers

Austwick Cemetery

Whilst  descending through the grey rain and grey fog down Pen y Ghent last week at 7am on the Bishop's walk, Rev Ian Greenhalgh invited me to look at the flowers of Austwick church cemetery.
Pen y Ghent

Ox-eye Daisy and Knapweed

This  visit  on the late afternoon of Thursday 30 June 2011 with camera certainly was not grey!!.

Austwick churchyard/cemetery

I was delighted to find a number of "Hay Meadow Indicator Species" - i.e. grassland species that only occur in old unimproved grassland.  

I had the privilege of meeting a family tending a grave..

and I had time to think a little about the ecology and management involved..
New flowers

and time to play at taking pictures of beautiful textures in the vegetation and scenery.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park and English Nature used to use a system of Ranking of Hay Meadows and Old "Unimproved" grassland by using a list of "Hay Meadow Indicator" species.

0      species  =  Reseeded/heavily fertilized grassland
1-4 species    = Some interest
5-9 species   =  Unimproved grassland - worth investigating further
> 10 species = High conservation value.

I have surveyed grassland both inside and outside the National Park, and used this system to compare the fields.

Fields with 10 or more species I would get excited about.  And within the top category, I myself would make an extra division - did it have more than 15?

After finding two species of Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla) (apart from the garden one) and Self Heal and Quaking-grass  in my first few steps of looking, I realised I should be able to make the "Ten species "target.

Here is what I found:

English Name                      Latin Name

Bird’s-foot Trefoil       Lotus corniculatus
Primrose                        Primula vulgaris
Downy Oatgrass         Helictotrichon pubescens
Field Woodrush          Luzula campestris
Glaucous Sedge        Carex flacca
Greater Burnet          Sanguisorba officinalis
Hairy hawkbit             Leontodon hispidus
Ladies Mantle xan.    Alchemilla xanthochlora
Lady’s Mantle glab    Alchemilla glabra
Lesser Stitchwort      Stellaria graminea
Meadow- sweet        Filipendula ulmaria
Quaking Grass          Briza media
Selfheal                       Prunella vulgaris
Twaeblade              Listera ovata  
Water Aven              Geum rivale
Yellow Meadow-vetchling Lathyrus pratensis

And growing on the road verge outside were:-
Bistort                         Persicaria bistorta
Meadow Crane's-bill   Geranium pratense

That's 16 species - plus two more growing outside !!


Twayblade (This is a type of orchid)

Twayblade close-up

Yellow Meadow-vetchling
Bird's-foot Trefoil

Greater Burnet

Self-heal from the side

Self-heal from above

Lady's Mantle 

Field Woodrush - the fruit are opening
and shedding their three seeds

Water Aven

Yes 16! 
Plus two extra on the road verge outside. (The Bistort and the Meadow Crane's-bill

It is an excellent cemetery.

Britain has lost over 98% of its species rich grassland, mostly in the last 60 years. .. This cemetery is an oasis for the flowers and for the insects that live on them.

Three species not on the above list but which were nice to find are:- Yellow Oat-grass,  Knapweed and Foxglove and "Fox and Cubs" (Pilosella aurantiaca)

Fox and Cubs

The people of Austwick are lucky to have such a diversity of wild flowers - which look good with the mixture of mown areas and mown borders and areas where the wild flowers are allowed to flower - And later in the year all  most areas I imagine will be mown, otherwise False Oat-grass would take over.

Red Clover, Oxe-eye Daisy,
Rye-grass and Rough Hawkbit
 beside gravestone

View from Austwick cemetery

View towards village from the cemetery

Why not visit the churchyard whilst the flowers are out? .. and take some photos too?

Friday 1 July 2011

Holcus lanatus - Yorkshire Fog

Grass of the Month for July 2011 

(See other month's grasses)

Which grass has lower sheaths with red and white/pastel green stripes, and is soft to touch, like wincyette pyjamas?

Yorkshire Fog!

Pick a shoot and you'll find yourself gently rubbing it as you walk along. It is soft and comforting  

The  pinky purply haze in haymeadow fields that have not been cut by July is  due to Yorkshire fog .

But how do you tell it in spring from the other three common plants which can have red and white shoot bases and are softly downy-
Soft Brome (Bromus hordeacious) Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis) and Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis)?

Well the first two are annuals and are easily uprooted.. and by May they are flowering.

Holcus mollis (above) has nodes that are hairy
and the stem below the node is hairless.
Hence the expression "Molly has hairy knees"
The ligule has only short hairs

Holcus lanatus has hairy nodes
is hairy too.
It has long and short hairs on the ligule

Holcus lanatus (seen here)  has
long and short  hairs on the ligule.
Holcus lanatus at Austwick church-yard