Fears nature reserve will deteriorate without trust

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 October 2015

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.

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Volunteers at Portbury Nature Reserve are hugely concerned the wildlife habitat will deteriorate if it is taken on by North Somerset Council.

Warden Bernie Darcey (2nd from left) with volunteers Dave Horlick, Carolyn Bishop, Brian Boyland, Jim Price, Martin Wolff and Helen Mason.Warden Bernie Darcey (2nd from left) with volunteers Dave Horlick, Carolyn Bishop, Brian Boyland, Jim Price, Martin Wolff and Helen Mason.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for finance, Cllr David Pasley, is due to make a decision on whether the authority will take over the management of the reserve from Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) by the end of this month.

But volunteers with AWT want to make people aware of the huge amount of work which goes into maintaining the wetlands - work they fear will not be continued if left to the council.

Helen, who has been volunteering at the reserve for five years, said: “We are concerned the council doesn’t understand how complicated the 116-acre wetlands reserve is.

“AWT volunteers go out every week for about three to four hours. In one area, we’ve spent five years clearing brambles and now we’ve turned it into a beautiful wildflower meadow with dragonflies, butterflies and bees. If it isn’t maintained it would quickly revert back to brambles.

“Volunteers clear the hydes which suffer from a lot of vandalism, as teenagers use them in the evenings so there’s litter, graffiti and we’ve even found vomit, but we’ll go there and clear it up for visitors.

“We are concerned without the AWT the quality of the reserve will deteriorate quickly.

“We perform such a wealth of tasks which require specialist knowledge and all the volunteers have had training.

“Leaving the reserve in the hands of the AWT means it’s protected. The thought of putting such a complex reserve in the hands of the council concerns us because we don’t see evidence they have the specialist knowldge the AWT does.”

The reserve is home to many species including barn owls, oyster catchers, water voles and greater crested newts.

The Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve are inviting people to debate the issues at a meeting in the Folk Hall, High Street, on October 9 at 7.30pm.


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