Ten Targets

In Shropshire we have adopted a strategy of identifying ten targets - ten fairly straightforward things that outrank all other conservation actions in their importance. The idea is to avoid the trap that often undermines nature conservation when each organisation and individual pursues short-term goals without any strategic view. What can happen is that lots of people undertake small tasks that are relatively easy to accomplish, but the big, difficult issues fall by the wayside.

Involvement in the ten targets is entirely voluntary, but we aim to monitor and report on progress and, if we find that they are not being met, then we shall bring that to the attention of the nature conservation organisations concerned. There is no need for alarm r controversy: the targets are all reasonable and achievable, and the goals worth pursuing. Without such targets, important species and habitats might be inadvertently destroyed which is not to anyone’s advantage.

>> The full Ten Targets document (2011)

Summary of the Ten Targets and progress to date

Target 1: publish your work and results.

Many reports are now being written, the difficulty being how to publish them in such a way that people are at all likely to find them. This web site is a place where reports can be compiled, and SEDN has introduced the 1-page report format, which makes it much less burdensome to write a report. There is still a lot to do, but now the systems are in place we should be able to make progress. Visit our reports page or the map of georeferenced reports. We would love to hear from anyone who has written a report on ecology or conservation in Shropshire.

Target 2: restore Brown Moss

Brown Moss has now been fenced, thanks to Shropshire Council and Natural England. Scrub bashing is under way (not for the first time) and there is the potential to introduce grazing. There are several reports of ecological surveys, but nothing on the management published yet.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? There is good baseline data but no published plan yet.
  • Management work undertaken? Some
  • Results monitored and published? No

Target 3: restore Wem Moss

A difficult site to manage because the boundaries are very close to the mire, and beyond that there is arable farmland. Some expensive drains were installed that were supposed to raise the water levels, and a huge amount of scrub was cleared; but to no real benefit yet. We need to see the reports and review what was anticipated, and re-evaluate that in the light of what has actually happened. Our feeling is that the site needs grazing by cattle, as that will break up the surface and create pools.

Action needed: compile the reports and management plans and make these available. Either introduce cattle grazing or find some other way of creating wetter habitat (small-scale peat cutting as a last resort).

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? No
  • Management work undertaken? Some
  • Results monitored and published? No

Target 4: Manage Earl’s Hill to conserve the grassland

Scrub has been cleared from the eastern slopes and good progress is rumoured. Grazing has not yet been reintroduced and without that then the restoration will fail. In the meantime, it would be better than nothing to cut the grass.

Target 5: protect Haughmond Hill

The evidence of the importance of Haughmond Hill is quite overwhelming. It was once a SSSI, designated for its wood pasrure and nightjars, but it was not renotified in the 1980s because of the afforestation with conifers. However, it has an exceptional number of axiophytes and would still qualify very comfortably as a SSSI even without the nightjars, but that species has been reported recently in areas where timber has been harvested. Another danger for Haughmond Hill is the possible expansion of the quarry in future. For a site that is of such importance to nature conservation and to recreation for residents in nearby Shrewsbury, it is vital that it should be recorgnised for what it is and protected against future threats.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? There is plenty of data available but the landowners/managers have not engaged with the conservation agenda yet.
  • Management work undertaken? No
  • Results monitored and published? No

Target 6: restore the Prees Branch Canal.

Prees Branch Canal is not itself of particular importance, but it is the only canal in the county that is primarily a nature reserve, and it used to be of very high quality a few decades ago. Its restoration would be a considerable achievement in the management of canals, which has been a story of inexorable decline throughout Britain in the last 50 years.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? Yes, there is reasonable data available for monitoring.
  • Management work undertaken? Yes, the canal has been dredged and the hedges cut back
  • Results monitored and published? Not yet

Target 7: save Cole Mere

Cole Mere has a number of important habitats and species, but the most important one is Least water-lily, Nuphar pumila, in its only site in England. It should be easy to conserve simply by preventing the trees on the shore from overhanging the water. There is more to managing the reserve than this, but this one simply objective should be achievable.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? Yes. Monitoring needs little more than an occasional photograph of the two populations. It would be good if the third population was to reappear, in the SE corner of the lake.
  • Management work undertaken? Yes, some.
  • Results monitored and published? Not yet.

Target 8: protect Moelydd

Moelydd is one of the very richest sites in Shropshire but only a small part of it - Jones’s Rough - is a nature reserve and is adequately protected. Unfortunately, it is also the are that is most at threat, having scrubbed over in recent years. The rest of the hill seems fairly sustainably managed, if not ideally. However, the Wildlife Trust has cut back a lot of the scrub recently and started grazing the Rough with Hebridean Sheep.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? Partially - there is survey data available.
  • Management work undertaken? Yes.
  • Results monitored and published? No, but there are anecdotal reports of some promising-looking outcomes.

Target 9: restore White Mere

The importance of White Mere is that it is the lake that has lost the most axiophytes most recently, and therefore seems like the most promising target for trialling restoration techniques. Natural England has undertaken some extensive work, removing trees and preventing contaminated water entering the mere. Initial results look very promising.

  • Aims and baseline data written and published? Not directly, but there are clear aims and good data available.
  • Management work undertaken? Yes - impressive amounts of work undertaken.
  • Results monitored and published? Not yet.

Target 10: save Cramer Gutter

Cramer Gutter is notable as the only site in the region for Marsh Gentian, Gentiana pneumonanthe, which has declined from well over 100 plants in 3 patches in about 1990 to 12 plants in one patch now. But it is also a small part of the much larger Catherton Common and, as such, its management and fate are of importance to the Wildlife Trust, which has bought a huge tract of land here in recent years. There is a vigorous debate about how stable the vegetation here is, with some ecologists arguing that gorse will quickly overwhelm the whole site if it is not managed properly, and others arguing that the community is a stable Cornish heath and there is no need to worry.

Cramer Gutter has been drying out over the last 20 years and scrubbing over, and the current plan is to intensify the management to the level that a farmer or commoner would traditionally have kept it at, in the hope of preventing the gentians dying out.

    • Aims and baseline data written and published? Yes
    • Management work undertaken? Yes
    • Results monitored and published? Not yet