A number of Wombourne residents have understandably voiced their concerns over the apparent ‘neglect’ of certain areas of ground adjoining the Brook; some areas are closely mown, while other parts are left to go wild (see the photo above).Â This is however a deliberate strategy on the part of the Council.
The South Staffordshire Council, working with the Environment Agency, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Wom BrookÂ have for some years monitored the Wom Brook and its adjoining banks for the occurrence of different plant and animal species. Significantly the Brook forms an important habitat for an endangered UK mammalian species-a water-dwelling rodent, namely the water vole.
Over the last ten years, numbers of water voles in the UK have declined alarmingly by 90%. This decline has prompted legislation to be passed which empowers Natural England & the Environment Agency to prosecute any individual or organisation that is found removing or killing water voles, or damaging their habitat. Fines up to Â£5000 may be imposed by the courts in such instances.
Leaving buffer zones of uncut grass, nettles and other plants on the fringes of the Brook provides natural shelter and camouflage for the water voles, helping them to evade predators such as mink, buzzards, dogs and cats.Â Elsewhere, larger areas of land have also been left uncut, in order to provide habitats for bees, butterflies and a range of insects that some of our dwindling number of bird species can feed on.
Reducing natural open spaces to lawn-like areas in order to make them appear tidy also destroys vital plant and animal habitats, which in turn has a knock-on effect for bird life-denying them food and ultimately life.
The above photo is taken from near the new Wom Brook finger post where the Wom Brook Walk bisects the South Staffordshire Railway Walk. The pathway leads down to the footbridge over the Wom Brook. Right of picture is the uncut area where a variety of bird life may be observed.
Here are some related links:
Wildlife & Habitats in the West Midlands (Environment Agency)