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Newport in Bloom hit back at claims clearing work is damaging wildlife

By Mat Growcott | Newport | News | Published:

The people behind Newport in Bloom have hit back at claims its clearing activities around the town could be detrimental to wildlife.

Newport in Bloom have hit back at claims its clearing efforts are damaging wildlife

The group, along with representatives of Telford & Wrekin Council and the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust, have been clearing wild patches in the town of some plants and trees.

Newport in Bloom said it had received some negative feedback from residents about the clearing, with concerns that it may be hurting wildlife.

Instead, they said controlled clearing was beneficial to both wildlife and people in the town.

Adrian Corney, of Telford and Wrekin Council, said: "With the spotlight firmly on the environment and how we manage it, as a local authority we have to try and strike a balance that suits both people and wildlife and allows habitats to flourish while not just stopping management in the name of conservation.

"In Newport we have formal and informal parks, residential open spaces with trees, grass and bulbs and the wonderful Newport canal. We work closely with volunteer groups – Newport in Bloom , The Shrewsbury & Newport Canal Trust and the town council and it’s members – to ensure that heritage is preserved and formal areas are improved with new plants to provide nectar for the pollinators and a floral display that is aesthetically pleasing to us too.

"There are plenty of areas where it’s more appropriate to apply a lighter touch to maintenance and we have native wildflower areas along the canal, Hutchison Way, the 'Sheep Island' and in Victoria Park where we manage the areas as traditional hay meadows to ensure botanical diversity.

"These areas are often buzzing with insect life in the summer. There are also areas where we allow woodland, scrub, brambles & nettles to thrive undisturbed as we acknowledge this is important habitat too."

John Myers, of Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust, said: "The natural areas around our towns are not really 'wild' as they have been changed and altered by man for thousands of years. So if we leave them to their selves they do not return to a natural ecosystem but will be over-run by dominant species. Without control, invasive plant species such as Himalayan Balsam can choke out beneficial plants. Dense vegetation also provides an ideal habitat for dangerous pests such as ticks.

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"Trees in particular define the landscape and, whether ancient or young, provide homes for thousands of species of plants, animals and fungi. For people, they provide places to explore and connect with nature and a sense of well-being. They absorb noise, pollution and carbon dioxide, they release oxygen, screen buildings, reduce flooding and provide a source of sustainable livelihoods and timber. By managing woodlands sustainably we are nurturing a habitat that is brilliant for both wildlife and people.

"The right trees in the right pace are beneficial to us all but in the wrong place can cause problems. Over recent years the canal trust has removed a number of trees that should not have been growing where they were.

"Since we started working at Meretown Lock we have turned an almost impassable jungle with little wildlife value into an open area with views over the surrounding countryside which is beneficial both for nature and for the wellbeing of people."

Barbara Deason, of Newport in Bloom, said: "Since volunteers started work at Wrekin Avenue Play Area in 2016 we have seen the Woodland Strip at the back of Ford Road cul-de-sac becoming more and more overgrown with brambles, so strong that they are bringing down tree branches. Birds nest and feed in these trees so we wanted to act before the Woodland area became lost to them.

"Working together with Telford & Wrekin Council, we spent time in January clearing away the brambles and nettles from the centre front, leaving ivy at both ends for wildlife. No trees have been removed, only dead branches together with some trimming at the front to facilitate mowing.

"Gaps left by removing the overgrown brambles will be planted with wildlife friendly shrubs and the grass will re-grow across the front restoring the Woodland Area to its former size. This has been ideal work to do in cold weather and we are grateful to all the residents of Ford Road and Leigh Road who have let us fill their green bins."

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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