Let Nature Improve Your Garden

Download our wildlife gardening leaflet to share these quick tips to make your garden wildlife friendly! You can also pick up a hard copy at Selsey, East Wittering and Chichester Libraries, as well as The Selsey Centre and Selsey Town Council.

Made in partnership with Transition Chichester, this leaflet is part of the wider Recreational Disturbance project, to conserve wildlife, from Chichester District Council.

Let Nature Improve Your Garden Leaflet Open PDF



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A Team Effort to Tidy East Beach

Wednesday 9th May was a stunning blue day at Selsey and perfect weather for a joint beach clean between the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) and Nature’s Way foods. The MWHG are based in Selsey and have an active volunteer group based at East Beach Pond. The MWHG were approached by Nature’s Way to see if we could team up their staff with our volunteers to do a litter pick at East Beach. The timing of the clean was important, because it was just after the busy bank holiday weekend, when there may have been more rubbish left than usual, and also before the main tourist season, by which time it would be good to have the beach and its surroundings looking tip top. The clean also coincides with Chichester District Council’s (CDC) recently launched ‘Against Litter’ campaign, and CDC kindly lent us some litter-picking kits, including litter pickers, hoops and bags.


MWHG volunteers and Nature’s Way staff busy clearing litter below the seawall. ©Nicola Timney


On the afternoon of the clean, 15 people turned up to help, including staff from Nature’s Way and staff and volunteers from the MWHG. The staff from Nature’s Way certainly seemed to appreciate the chance to get out of the office on such a glorious afternoon, with the added bonus of giving back something to the local community. It was also great to have the support of some of the regular volunteers from the MWHG East Beach group. After ensuring everyone was briefed on safety and supplied with the right kit, volunteers were allocated different areas to work on and set off in pairs. The focus for the clean was approximately the 200m of beach in front of and either side of the East Beach car park and the surroundings of the car park itself, including the greens. Overall it was good to see that there was not a huge amount of litter left on the beach or the greens, the worst area was below the seawall on the landward side, where litter is dropped from above and collects from the wind. Most of the litter found was waste plastic, including food wrappers, bottle and bottle caps. After a good two hours of work, 8 bags of litter had been collected and were left by the bins for CDC to take away.


The team. Hopefully we’ll join forces again soon to tackle more litter! ©Nicola Timney


Over refreshments of juice, biscuits and strawberries, the team could feel well pleased that they had a made a difference and there was even talk of making a joint litter pick between Nature’s Way and MWHG a regular thing! Many thanks to all the volunteers and staff who turned up, and in particular thanks to Hannah Lambourne from Nature’s Way, for helping to organise the clean and providing the refreshments. Thanks also to Community Wildlife Officer, Sarah Hughes, for helping to arrange the litter picking kits from CDC.


Post by Rebecca

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The New Volunteer Welcome Pack has Landed!

Earlier this week, the new volunteer welcome pack finally rolled out of Selsey Press. As Communications Officer, the design and production of this pack has been one of the key projects during my first 6 months in post. The rationale behind the pack is to provide volunteers with a background to the MWHG as an organisation, along with information on where we work and the volunteering opportunities available. In the early stages of developing the pack, I spoke to several volunteers, and the issues that came up included: How is the MWHG structured and who are the main contacts in the organisation? What is the FLOW Project and how does it fit with our other work? What locations do we work in, and how do we know what other volunteering opportunities there are? The pack seeks to answer these questions and in doing so, will make it easier for volunteers to orientate themselves within the MWHG and choose when, where and how they would like to volunteer. In addition to this, the pack is a support document, covering important topics such as lone working and work-party safety, that are relevant to established and new volunteers alike.

Contents of the new volunteer welcome pack. ©R. O’Dowd

Contents of the new volunteer welcome pack. ©R. O’Dowd

The production of this pack has been a joint effort. The exact contents were hammered out at a brain-storming session with Jane Reeve, Chris Drake, Sheila Wilkinson and Dave Haldane, and finalised after a review and discussion with Joe Savill. In the months since, Joe, Jane, Chris have all contributed content, which I’ve then developed and structured into the new pack format. The pack contents are held within a useful folder that volunteers can use to keep other documents about MWHG too. With all the different sections to check, there was lots of proof-reading to do before the final copy went to the printers, so further thanks to Joe, Jane and Chris for help with this. Mike Wickens at Selsey Press has been excellent in discussing the printing options, and the quality of the finished product has exceeded my expectations.

I now have the task of compiling the contents of all 200 packs, and will do this in batches with many cups of tea and biscuits to keep me going! The first packs will be going out to volunteers shortly via the group leaders and any volunteers that can’t be reached this way will receive a copy in the post or at a later event. The pack will go to all existing and new volunteers who are currently active in contributing their time to our work.  Despite our small size as an organisation, I believe MWHG now has a welcome pack worthy of our fantastic volunteers, and it is an important way in which we can show how much we value the time and effort that they contribute.

Over time, there is scope to add and revise the welcome pack contents as needed, and I would welcome feedback from volunteers. Please email hello@mwhg.org.uk with your comments.


Communications and Engagement Officer for MWHG


Post by Rebecca

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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

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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!




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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.






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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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