General History of the Group

The group was formed in 2007 following a public meeting held at Dosthill School. The meeting had been called by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust working in conjunction with Tamworth Borough Council on the ‘Wild About Tamworth’ scheme.

TBC identified an opportunity to create a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) within Dosthill park and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) called a meeting with the aim of outlining the proposal and recruiting local volunteers to co-manage the project.

A number of local residents came forward and formed the group which is now known as Dosthill Wildlife Group. A management committee was formed, a management plan drawn up and forwarded to SWT and TBC and links were forged with the local schools and businesses. Local and CountyCouncillors were contacted and all readily offered support and much needed funding.

The Logo

The logo of the group – a deer in silhouette, was chosen by the group following a competition held at Dosthill School. The group’s school’s liaison officer Diane Watkins and SWT representative Graham Peake approached the staff at the school and asked them organise a competition to design the logo. The pupils put forward several very good ideas and designs but finally chose the silhouette because of its significance in relation to the derivation and meaning of the name ‘Dosthill’. The village has a very long history and the name, although slightly modified over the centuries, means ‘Hill of the Deer, so when the group saw the design by local pupil Tom Aldridge, it was the immediate and obvious choice. In recognition of his efforts, the group gave Tom a certificate recording his success and a scale model tractor.

Work and Projects

Dosthill Park is well used every day of the week throughout the year by both local residents and visitors from neighbouring villages and somewhat further afield. The very first task completed by the members was the installation of three benches in the riverside meadow to encourage visitors to stay a little longer and enjoy the many aspects of the park and the river.

Spring 2008 saw the members really start to transform the park with the planting of a new boundary hedgerow. At the time of planting, the trees were no more than small twigs and sticks only 150 to 180 mm long, but thankfully over 90% of those planted survived and continue to grow. Once again staff and pupils of Dosthill School were involved and during the course of the day several parties of children came into the park to help plant the trees. The funding for the trees was donated by County Councillor Carol Dean.

A very important feature of the park is the riverside meadow. This meadow contains some very important species of wildflowers found only in a few remote areas of Staffordshire and these were in danger of being lost as the meadow had been allowed to fall into a very poor state over a number of years. SWT provided advice to the group on how to improve the condition of the meadow and save the rare wild flowers. The meadow was cut and cleared twice during 2008 and has been cut annually since and it is now starting to return to its former state and the wildflowers are now thriving once again. Each year the mown grass is collected and several piles are made in strategic areas of the meadow so as to help and encourage a wide diversity of creatures.

Water is very important for all species of life – both flora and fauna. With this in mind, a pond and scrapes have been dug in the park and these are now supporting wildlife in the park and helping to encourage a wider diversity of wildlife to the park.
An easy way to help the wild birds of the park is to provide food and shelter. Bird food is taken into the park, especially during the winter and nest boxes have also been provided and installed. The nest boxes are carefully monitored and maintained and a record of breeding species is now being compiled so that development can be tracked over many years and also compared with similar nest box schemes in other areas around the district.

A major project underway is the bridge and boardwalk through the wet woodland area of the park. This area holds an enormous amount of natural wildlife, trees, plants, fungi and lichens but it all remains unseen for considerable periods of the year because access is impossible due to the very nature of the area. To overcome this, a boardwalk is being constructed that will take visitors through this normally inaccessible area and then out over the stream via a bridge into the riverside meadow.

The bridge was completed in 2011 and the boardwalk is scheduled for completion in late spring 2012. In January 2012, the members constructed a pond dipping platform alongside the pond which was dug in 2011.

Future projects include a viewing platform which will overlook the river and the RSPB reserve at Middleton, more seating for visitors, tree maintenance, watercourse maintenance and sign and interpretation boards to help visitors understand what is in the park and hopefully give them more enjoyment during their visits.

Achievements

DPWG has had two main successes – the award of a Lottery grant of £50,000 in 2009 to enable them to complete their planned work and improvements and also the achievement of LNR status for the park in 2010. This made all the previous hard work and all the improvements worthwhilebut the group cannot standstill. A management plan had to be submitted to Natural England, the governing body, and this has to be maintained. There is still many years of hard work left.

On a more general note, there has been a definite increase in the diversity of wildlife in the park with documented evidence of owls not only returning to the park but breeding also, signs of Otters along the riverbank, snakes in the grasspiles and Fallow Deer seen by several members of the group.

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