Volunteers take on the Coir Roll Challenge!

Last weekend a team of dedicated volunteers, with FLOW Project Leader Jane at the helm, took on the challenge of distributing 40 coir rolls to 8 sites across the Manhood Peninsula. They were ably assisted by Campbell Thorp, who drove the rolls around in his pick-up truck, and all went home happy in the knowledge of a task well done…and lots of loose coir fibres in their ears, mouths and clothing! A huge thanks is extended to all the volunteers that helped shift these rolls about, and a special thanks to Campbell Thorp for his work with his pick-up and trailer. The use of coir rolls is an important part of the habitat creation and improvement work that MWHG do, and we asked Jane to tell us more about the rolls and how they work.

In a nutshell, what is a coir roll?

A coir roll is a long sausage shaped bundle made of coconut fibres, which are bound together with bio-degradable cord. It’s an environmentally sound use of coconut fibres which are otherwise a waste product of coconut production. The coir rolls in this case have been delivered to us dry and they have 18-20 holes cut into them where plug plants can be placed. The benefit of dry coir rolls is that they are only 20-30 kg to heft about, compared to the 80 – 100 kg when wet. It also means that we can populate them up with the plants of our choosing as they are not pre-planted, so we can introduce very specific species relevant to the local area.

Volunteers lift the coir rolls into position. The Wad, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

Purple areas of loose coir where it can be removed and plug plants put in. Hale Farm, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

These coir rolls will be staked into place and then planted up with a range of riparian species to improve biodiversity and to stabilise the ditch banks. Once staked, the coir rolls absorb water and are a great medium for the plants to grow in. The plants soon put on growth and create large roots that go through the coir and into the banks of the ponds, ditches or banks where they have been placed. They do not need any topping up and will thrive, as demonstrated in the photos of Birdham Pond below. They then just require light cutting back once a year like any other vegetation. The coir will eventually disappear completely leaving the plants growing in the underlying soil.

Pre-planted coir rolls being installed at Kingfisher pond in Birdham. ©Jane Reeve

 Kingfisher pond 4 months on with the vegetation growth. ©Jane Reeve

After coir rolls are installed, the growth in one year can be incredible.

Why is the use of coir rolls important to MWHG’s work?

By helping to stabilise ditch and stream banks and introducing more plant biodiversity into the wetlands, we are trying to create better water vole habitat. Water Voles are England’s fastest declining mammal, so this work with help ensure that that they continue to have a stronghold on the Manhood Peninsula.

How do you decide where to put the coir rolls?

We target wetland sites that have very little floristic diversity, and which have been heavily shaded and under managed over a long period in the past. We have worked on these sites over the last couple of years removing willow and bramble that didn’t allow light to hit the water, opening them up and digging them out. The final stage is introducing native wetland species with the help of coir rolls that we can plant with plugs. This year, we have decided to target Hilton Business Park pond, the Cakeham Manor wetland area, Hale Farm, Regency house and Sparrow cottage – all sites we have worked on and prepared this winter. We may dig out these sites further, so will ensure that the coir rolls are not damaged.

The weather is a challenge this time of year, why put them out now?

We install the coir rolls this time of year because the vegetation/tree cutting season has finished with the start of the bird breeding season and it is also the beginning of the growing season. Small plug plants put into the rolls have a whole growing season ahead and can quickly green-up what had previously been a dark and bare site. The rolls have all gone onto site now and we will spend the next couple of weeks installing them. This Friday we will start work on Hilton Business Park – staking the rolls into place and planting them with a range of plug plant species.

Hale Farm, West Wittering © Jane Reeve

Malthouse Cottages, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

After installation, the coir rolls green-up quickly, adding an early flush of life to bare winter wetlands and helping to stabilise the banks.

Is that it, or will you be installing more rolls in the future?

I will probably try and get more of these rolls next year so that we can do this all again on the new sites we will be working on. This work is so satisfying because we can see the results quickly and it makes a big difference to the quality and diversity of our local wetlands. We are always looking for new volunteers to come and help us, so if this blog has inspired you, why not get in touch and find out how you can get involved. There is no requirement for a regular commitment, and coming along for a taster session is great way to meet the volunteers and see if it is something you might enjoy.

Please contact Rebecca on hello@mwhg.org.uk for more information about volunteering with MWHG, or ring Jane on 07743824049 if you wish to join a work event. Details of our upcoming tasks can be found on our website calendar.

The coir roll champions! There’s nothing quite like a cup of tea after a good day’s work. Southend Farm, Donnington © Jane Reeve

Post by Rebecca

Posted in _Blogs, _News, FLOW Project, Wildlife and Habitats | Comments Off on Volunteers take on the Coir Roll Challenge!

Have Your Say: New Activities for Dog Walkers Outside Protected Chichester Harbour

Chichester Harbour is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is in part protected for the wading birds, present over the winter months. Chichester District Council is looking to provide activities for dogs on alternative routes outside of the harbour, between Southbourne and Chichester, to minimize external affects on these birds.

Please take the short survey on the Chichester District Website and share your ideas for activities you would like to see!




Posted in _Blogs, _News, Recreational Disturbance Project, Wildlife and Habitats | Comments Off on Have Your Say: New Activities for Dog Walkers Outside Protected Chichester Harbour

Freshwater Habitats Trust: Frog Spawn Survey 2018

Take part in this year’s Freshwater Habitats Trust’s (FHT) Frog Spawn survey. This annual survey collects data on the numbers of breeding frogs and toads in your garden or local park, pond. This important data is distributed across the UK to government bodies and non-profit organisations, to be considered during planning and guide conservation efforts.

Download the FHT’s recording form, which includes identification examples, to help you track your sightings of spawn, tadpoles and adult frogs or toads.

Freshwater Habitats Trust Spawn Survey 2018 Form View PDF

Enter your results on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website and follow #SpawnSurvey on social media for updates.






Posted in _Blogs, _News, Wildlife and Habitats | Comments Off on Freshwater Habitats Trust: Frog Spawn Survey 2018

FLOW Project: Earnley Parish Report and Drop in Results Session

Read the full FLOW Project Ditch Assessment and Improvement Plan, or read our quick FLOW e-bulletin round-up of the work completed in Earnley.


FLOW Project Report Earnley Parish 2018

FLOW Project Report Earnley 2018 Appendix iii

FLOW Project Report Earnley Parish 2018 Appendix iv

The FLOW Team is also hosting a drop in session to show their results, this Thursday 15th February at Bracklesham Barn, from 10 am to 12pm.

Posted in _Blogs, _News, FLOW Project | Comments Off on FLOW Project: Earnley Parish Report and Drop in Results Session

FLOW e-bulletin February 2018

Read our e-bulletin for a snapshot of the work we’ve achieved in Earnley or read our detailed FLOW Report on our findings.

This Thursday 15th February, the FLOW Project Team will be hosting a drop in session at Bracklesham Barn from 10 am to 12pm, to show their results and plants for future work in the local area.

Posted in _Blogs, _News, FLOW Project | Comments Off on FLOW e-bulletin February 2018

Cold Snaps: Photos from our Winter Work Projects

FLOW Project

Removing Willow from the relic pond at Hilton Business Park © Chris Drake, November 2017

As part of the Fixing and Linking our Wetlands (FLOW) Project, volunteers have been clearing invasive Willow from overgrown ponds across the Manhood Peninsula. At the relic pond in East Wittering, our working party made quick progress, with FLOW Field Officer, Chris, managing to clear seven large willow trees with a chain saw in a single session! These Willow cuttings are used to make stakes and binders for hedge laying and the team plans to return soon to create a dead hedge at the Hilton Business Park site. This natural barrier will decay over time, enriching the ground, whilst providing shelter for insects and other wildlife throughout its life.

ASHE Group

Collecting debris for the bug house at Morgan’s Pond © Jane Reeve, December 2017

On a recent tool organizing day, ASHE volunteers took the opportunity to check in on the new hedge and replenish the bug house at Morgan’s Pond, in Almodington, with natural material. The Almodington, Sidlesham, Highleigh and Earnley (ASHE) Group maintain sites within their parishes year-round to reinforce habitats. This is especially important to do now for winter-hibernating creatures, before freezing temperatures take hold.

East Beach Pond

Maintaining the island and reed beds at East Beach Pond © Dave Haldane, November 2017

East Beach pond, in Selsey, received Gold from the South & South-East in Bloom Awards this year, thanks to our East Beach Pond Group’s hard work! Restoration of the pond brings wildlife to the water and ensures the built-in flood prevention system continues to benefit local people. In November, the volunteers took the boat out to the island to reduce scrub and cut back the surrounding reed beds, preserving the pond for next year.


Learn more about how you can get involved and volunteer for our practical conservation projects.

Post by Nikki

Posted in _Blogs, _News, Notices | Comments Off on Cold Snaps: Photos from our Winter Work Projects

Autumn/ Winter Newsletter 2017

Click on our new newsletter for updates on our work, introductions to new FLOW Project team members, pictures of our wildlife sightings and to read the Eileen Savill Award winning poems, from Lilah and Mia.

If you’re not a member but would like to be notified when our newsletters are released, sign up below!

Autumn/ Winter Newsletter 2017

Posted in _Blogs, _News, Notices | Comments Off on Autumn/ Winter Newsletter 2017

Eileen Savill Award 2017 Results

Mia [left] and Lilah [right] receiving their awards from Dave [centre]

The task for young people this year was to produce a piece of creative writing about minibeasts.

The winner was Lilah [aged 7], for her poem about a butterfly’s life. Told from the butterfly’s point of view, it explored the butterfly’s feelings through its life cycle.

Runner-up was Mia [aged 9], also for a poem but this time it described the variety of minibeasts, their characteristics and behaviours.

Read Lilah and Mia’s poems in our Autumn/ Winter newsletter: coming soon!

Eileen Savill Award carved by Peter Warren

The presentation ceremony took place at the Selsey Centre with family of the winners in attendance, members of the Savill family and friends, as well as MWHG members. The Award, certificates and other prizes were presented by Management Team Member, Dave Haldane, who is one of the group’s experts in identification of flora and fauna.

The girls both received a book about minibeasts and a gift token. And as winner, Lilah also received a book of poems and the Award itself. This year it was a diving Kingfisher, beautifully carved, as always, by Peter Warren.

After the presentations and hearing the poems, both read very confidently and clearly by Lilah and Mia, everyone enjoyed light refreshments and an opportunity to discuss the girls’ work.

The judging team now look forward to planning next year’s award.


The Eileen Savill annual Award was created by her family in 2012 to commemorate her work with young people, helping them overcome difficulties in their education and build on their strengths. She was a founder member of the Group and contributed artwork for many MWHG publications in order to celebrate the wildlife and heritage of the Manhood Peninsula.

Post by Joe


Posted in _Blogs, _News, Notices | Comments Off on Eileen Savill Award 2017 Results

Our Own Community Champion

Dave Haldane (centre) and volunteers celebrating at East Beach Pond

Dave Haldane [centre] and volunteers celebrating at East Beach Pond

Dave Haldane has won a Community Champion Award as part of this year’s South & South-East in Bloom Awards.

The judges wanted to recognise his unwavering commitment as a volunteer to help maintain various open spaces in Selsey, in particular East Beach Pond and Selsey Common. They were also very impressed with his knowledge of local flora and fauna and enjoyed the wonderful overview he gave of the areas during their judging tours.

He was one of only three people chosen to receive this award across the whole of the South & South-East in Bloom judging area, which includes about 300 communities.

Members of the East Beach Pond Group gathered to celebrate Dave’s award with bubbly and nibbles, at the end of their regular Tuesday afternoon session at the pond.

Post by Joe

Posted in _Blogs, _News, Notices | Comments Off on Our Own Community Champion

Tooled-up for the Task Ahead

Post by Rebecca

On Wednesday morning, a small group of MWHG volunteer leaders and staff took advantage of the autumn sunlight to unpack and label a large cache of new tools. Having been inundated by the newly ordered implements, it was a relief to FLOW Project Manager, Jane, to finally get them all out of the house and stored safely in the container! The tools, amongst which are spades, billhooks, hand-saws and rakes, are a timely acquisition, and have been distributed to different sub-groups for use across the peninsular. The tool’s arrival is also welcomed ahead of the FLOW Project’s busy autumn and winter work programme.


© Rebecca O’Dowd

Posing with an array of new tools, and itching to get started with them out in the field.

This addition to MWHG’s work-party resources is a result of a successful application to the WSCC’s Operation Watershed Fund, which was set up to support community and flood group initiatives tackling flood issues across the country. To qualify for the money, MWHG had to demonstrate the wider benefit of its work to the community, through education, training and sustainability- not just direct action- and have the support of the County Councillor. The outcome of that funding application, was that MWHG were awarded an impressive £3000 for new tools. Reflecting on the benefit this will have, FLOW Project Manager Jane Reeve, says “ I am looking forward to the difference this will help us make in enhancing local habitats, such as ditches, ponds and hedges- all of which contribute to controlling surface water and flood risk”. Lots of new tools require lots of volunteers to use them however, and the MWHG and FLOW Project are always looking for more ‘hands on deck’ to help meet their ambitious targets for surveying and improving wildlife habitats, across the Manhood Peninsula.


© Rebecca O’Dowd

It was a test of skill, teamwork and ingenuity to assemble to two wheelbarrows!

If you are interested in volunteering for the MWHG or FLOW Project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have a variety of volunteer roles available, and a full schedule of upcoming work party events, including regular ‘Flow Fridays’ and ‘Welly Wednesdays’. You can check out our events calendar, or keep in the loop by following us on Facebook @mwhg.page and Twitter @mwhgpage 

For more information on volunteering near you and how you can get involved, please contact Rebecca O’Dowd (Communications and Engagement Officer) on: hello@mwhg.org.uk


Posted in _Blogs, _News, Notices | Comments Off on Tooled-up for the Task Ahead