Tag Archives: Nature

Nature plan moves on

Richard Astle

Langdyke is spearheading a campaign to protect nature in the area we have come to know as John Clare Countryside. Here chair Richard Astle gives an update on how the plan is moving on with the creation of nature recovery plans

Lockdown has reinforced our love of nature, but it hasn’t lessened the pressures on our local wildlife.  

We are lucky to have so much and so varied wildlife in and around our villages.  But we must never forget how much nature, even here, is in steep decline. 

Nightingales have gone from Bainton Heath, lapwings nest in one or two places, not everywhere as they once did; turtle doves have done well again this year at Maxey, but have vanished from the rest of our countryside. Wild-flower meadows are few and very far between and ash trees are dying across our landscape.

This is why the John Clare Countryside project – spearheaded by the Langdyke Countryside Trust – is so important as it aims to create a nature recovery area across our area, allowing space for nature to prosper and expand across the countryside.  

If you haven’t read our vision document it is on Langdyke’s website here

And these ideas have considerable support.  

Peterborough City Council unanimously approved a motion in July to “support Natural Cambridgeshire’s aim of doubling the area of land managed for nature across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by 2050 and in particular supports the John Clare Countryside project, which aims to create, launch and deliver an ambitious and accessible nature recovery area across the landscape areas to the west of Peterborough”

We have been taking these plans forward during lockdown, including the launch by Zoom of our initiative for every parish to create its own Nature Recovery Plan.   

Already we have twelve of our local parishes signed up to the idea and starting work on their plans. 

 Working with our partners at Natural England, the Wildlife Trust and PECT, Langdyke has produced a toolkit full of advice on how to develop a nature recovery plan. The first step is to create a map of the key wildlife sites in each parish, a baseline of where nature is richest.  

From this, each parish can decide its objectives (plant more trees, restore orchards, dig ponds etc.) and then develop a recovery map setting out how and where new habitats can be created and linked up.

Once plans for each of the parishes are complete, we can then work collectively to link up all these ideas and ensure a landscape-scale approach to nature recovery across John Clare Countryside.   Any proposals in the plans must of course be discussed and agreed with landowners first and we will be working closely with the farming community to ensure that these plans fully reflect their interests and help their approach to the new agricultural subsidy regime.

Initial ideas include corridors of trees stretching between Stamford and Peterborough; or a chain of wildflower meadows linking Nene and Welland.  

The parish plans are just one part of the John Clare Countryside project – we are also bidding for substantial funding from Heritage Lottery Fund to allow us to work closely with landowners and to develop ideas for improved public access and community engagement. 

The project also includes work to link nature and mental and physical health, forging relationships with the NHS and mental health charities.

If you’d like to be involved in your parish nature recovery plan or any other aspect of the John Clare Countryside project, do let us know and we can put you in touch with the key contacts.  Please email me at chair@langdyke.org.uk

If we are to help nature recover, we need more volunteers! 

Matthew’s our next guest

Langdyke is organising another online event – this time a conversation with the boss of one of the area’s largest nature attractions.

Matthew Bradbury

Following on from our very successful first conversation with Gardener’ s World expert Adam Frost in April, we are joined on May 20 by Matthew Bradbury, chief executive of the Nene Park Trust.

The hour-long online meeting starting at 5pm  uses Zoom.  You can join by getting a logon link – you don’t have to install any software.

He will  chat  about his love for nature, the work of the Trust and his thoughts on the John Clare Countryside project.

If you’d like to join the meeting please email Langdyke chair Richard Astle on richard@athene-communications.co.uk.

He will send you the Zoom invite.



How to … build a DIY pond


In the latest of our How to … series of articles – in which we dish out simple advice on ways  to enjoy nature in your garden – Mike Horne explains how to construct a temporary wildlife pond


Building a long-term wildlife pond takes some time in the planning and construction stages.

But if you have decided you need something for you and your family to do during the current lockdown why not get out into the garden and make an unsuspecting object into a temporary wildlife pond.

It has long been known that the creation of a water feature does something to the mind that has no equal when it comes to staving off feelings of deep boredom or depression, and the satisfaction of adding a totally new aquatic ‘dimension’ to your garden almost instantly allows the restoration of ‘balance’ and harmony.

There is no denying that having somewhere new in your own garden where one can go to sit with a nice cup of tea or coffee and peer into the water to see what may have appeared overnight is an exciting prospect.

Here’s how to create a temporary wildlife pond.

Step 1: Choose a container to be your pond


I chose to repurpose a water butt stand that was hiding in a corner of my garden, although almost any large-ish object that can hold water will do. The bigger the better, really, so that the water temperature doesn’t fluctuate very much during the day (as that only seems to encourage algal blooms). One thing you could use is a washing up bowl.  If you want you can also dig a hole to place your container in, but remember that you need sloping sides so that potential wildlife visitors can get in and out easily.

Step 2: Fill it with water

If you are a patient sort of person, you may well be content to use water from the mains tap to fill up your object and then wait a week or two so that the chemicals can dissipate. Alternatively fill it from a water butt.

Step 3: You may wish to add an additive

I often use an additive that instantly makes tap water safe for fish and wildlife, and which is very convenient.






Step 4: Acquire some plants

This might easily be done if you have an obliging neighbour who has their own wildlife pond. Naturally, you will need to observe social distancing, but if this can be done then all is well.

Ideally, you should have a mix of fully aquatic plants such as a mini water lily, oxygenators – such as hornwort,  and semi submerged plants such as brook lime or water mint. Reeds and Iris also add structure to a pond. Stones can be used to keep the new plants in place until they develop a root network.

Step 5: Add some wildlife

Lastly, you need to introduce some small fully aquatic life into the new wildlife pond, and so do please ask your friendly neighbour to include these when they are bagging up the plants.

Water fleas are essential in keeping algae from turning the water into a sort of ‘pea soup’ colour, and having a few water snails and water louse are also quite helpful in keeping the pond clean and balanced. (Adding fish to a wildlife pond never works very well, as they eat all the water fleas and the water usually then turns green within a week or two.)

Insects such as water beetles, water boatmen, dragonflies, damselflies and caddis flies will find your new pond easily enough, and in a few weeks you will have many new additions to your wildlife pond.

If the pond is at ground level, then your local amphibian population will also be delighted to discover its whereabouts. On hot summer days frogs, in particular, will often sit in ponds to keep cool.

Step 6: Enjoy it

Good luck with your new addition to your garden. It doesn’t take long to create a wildlife pond – once you have a source for the plants and animals, but it can give hours of pleasure just sitting nearby and watching what is going on underneath the surface.