20 years on: YACWAG's leading legacy to inspire next generation of environmentalists
PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 May 2019
Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group (YACWAG) has been spurring people on to protect the environment for 20 years and its founders have spoken to the Times about the vital work it has achieved over this time.
Tony and Faith Moulin were driven to set up YACWAG in 1999 and have worked since its humble beginnings to maintain nature reserves and educate people in wildlife conservation.
Tony hails the work as a 'fantastic achievement' and hopes the next generation of wildlife-lovers will benefit from the efforts made by the group in the years to come.
He said: “In 20 years, we have really become very popular, people know a lot about us generally.
“In this time, it has raised just short of £335,000 as a charity and we have 200 members under our name.
“It has been a fantastic achievement and the charity's volunteers work out on some of the best land around the country, so it's quite something to have come so far.
“YACWAG has helped to train a lot of people over the years since its beginnings in 1999.
“My wife and I started to get concerned and interested about environmental issues when our children were growing up, as it's right on our doorstep.”
Tony and Faith raised their children in Yatton and have two sons, Daniel and Christopher and their daughter Natasha, who are all in their 40s.
The couple have lived in Yatton for 44 years and will celebrate their 50th anniversary wedding in September.
Tony added: “At the time, The Friends of Biddle Street group worked in conjunction with North Somerset Council, which was campaigning for local action, acting for environmental issues at the Site of Special Scientific Interest in Yatton.
“Shortly afterwards, fields went up for sale and a land owner I knew said there was one he bought which he didn't want, Ten Acres, which spurred us into action.
“The reason the club wanted its own land is because we did a lot of work on fields which weren't ours and we didn't have control, so this is something we could, as a campaign group, claim was vital to protect animal species in North Somerset.
“I applied for a Government grant to buy the land in 1999 and I was successful and we now have 10 fields in Yatton and Congresbury belonging to the charity.
“The last one we bought was in 2011 and since the club's members began their campaigning efforts we have helped bring back barn owls to the area, 58 to be exact, and flocks of kestrel birds.
“The most exciting event was two years ago when three groups of barn owls were spotted on Congresbury Moor and Kenn Moor Road.”
The charity's nature conservation and history work also gets taught in schools and children learn about birds, bats and nature, including what they can do in the area to better help different animal species thrive.
Tony added: “In addition to this, our volunteers' work has been instrumental to help North Somerset Council protect bat species spotted in the district, by introducing guidelines to safeguard their breeding grounds.
“The charity wants to protect the land as best as possible, but I also understand the council needs to give scope to planners to develop homes.
“Thankfully, the law we helped create means developers must follow these rules, which means greater horseshoe bats are widely protected in the region.
“YACWAG has won various awards for its conservation work over the years, including from Natural England in 2003, one for land management and even for volunteer of the year.
“It's been wonderful.”
YACWAG will hold an anniversary event at Yatton's Stowey Nature Reserve, off Stowey Road, on Monday from 8am-8.30pm.
A range of hands-on activities will take place, including rhyne dipping, owl pellet dissection as well as guided walks to see wild flowers, spiders, bees, butterflies and small mammals.
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