Otters and rare birds and insects return to Charvil

Otters and rare birds and insects return to Charvil

First they started popping up in rivers across the USA – New York, Detroit, Ohio – then Somerset and the Isle of Wight and now they’re appearing in Charvil, Berkshire UK: wild otters are back in our waters and hopefully they are here to stay.

After a twenty-year absence the semiaquatic mammals have been spotted in parts of Charvil Wildlife Reserve, a sign that significant improvements have been made to the area’s ecological structure and most importantly to the quality and cleanliness of the water.

And it’s not just otters. Rare species of bees, wasps and other winged creatures have been identified and reported to the TVREC, Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, edging Charvil one step closer towards its goal of becoming the county’s first fully eco-friendly village.

The TVREC recently surveyed and monitored the 42-hectare Charvil Wildlife Reserve, confirming the presence of rare and protected species such as the grey heron.

They also recorded that other rare birds, such as gadwall, smew and bitterns, were staying over the winter months.

After an extensive survey, the findings, which also acknowledged rare flora and fauna and the installation of walkways so that visitors have a choice of how to access the parklands, Charvil Meadows and Charvil Country Park have been designated a ‘Local Wildlife Site’.

Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) are areas that provide natural habitats and safe havens for rare species of bird, insects, fish and mammals.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework all authorities are required to find Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and cultivate and protect their existence.

In total there are 43,000 LWS across England, all of which are protected from development.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) councillor for Charvil, Sam Akhtar, (Con) said:

"As the Borough councillor for Charvil, I could not be more proud of this project and along with residents getting involved with litter picking, our hedgehog signs and now this wildlife designation, I feel Charvil is fast becoming the most animal and eco-friendly village in the UK. 

“To further raise awareness of this amazing achievement, myself and Simon Bartlam, who is the countryside officer at WBC, will be running a two-hour, free, guided tour of the park and meadows on Saturday July 30th at 10am."

The mission to make Charvil more eco-friendly has been jointly shared by WBC and Charvil Parish Council.

Some of the measures include planting 1,000 extra trees and helping visitors explore the area using eight QR-coded information boards.

Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure at WBC, said:

“We’re immensely proud of this achievement. It is a testament to the hard work our officers, partners and volunteers have put into making the site a welcoming, hospitable place for both our borough’s wildlife and the people who visit to enjoy it.

“We hope this designation will encourage more residents to visit and enjoy the treasures they may not even know existed on their own doorstep.”

Matthew Stanton, head of planning and advocacy at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, likened the area to a living jigsaw puzzle that is being pieced together across the region.  

“We are delighted that Charvil Meadows and Country Park have been designated as Local Wildlife Sites. These areas provide valuable wetland and freshwater habitats, vital for threatened species such as otters and bitterns.

“To achieve our vision of more nature everywhere, it is essential that we recognise and protect important sites like these. Only then can we achieve the Government’s own target of protecting 30 per cent of land and sea for nature by 2030.”

The TVERC holds over four million species records and regularly encourages members of the public to spot, record and report sightings to: www.tverc.org/cms/content/get-involved 

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