Biodiversity in Hampton Lucy Parish

Definition: The International Convention on Biological Diversity defines Biodiversity as the variety of life on Earth from the smallest microbe to the largest animals and plants. They suggest that it should also include genetic diversity of different species as well as the variety of different ecosystems. So, if we see two or three orange tip butterflies in Hampton Lucy, we want to be sure that they are as genetically different from one another as possible.

Why is biodiversity important? Rich biodiversity allows large scale ecosystems to self-regulate. Different ecosystems are linked so that if biodiversity is reduced in one area, it may well be damaged elsewhere. Plants carry out photosynthesis, helping to keep levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide stable. They also absorb large amounts of water from the soil and help to hold the soil together. Plants provide food and shelter for a large range of animal species.

Biodiversity has produced the genetic diversity that has allowed the development of crops, livestock, fisheries and forests.

High Biodiversity
Areas of high biodiversity will include:

  • very stable ecosystems because this allows complex relationships to develop between species;
  • areas of high productivity or photosynthesis since this can support more niches for other species;
  • areas where organisms can grow and reproduce rapidly. More mutations may occur, resulting in increased adaptation for exploitation of more niches.

Low Biodiversity
Areas of lower biodiversity will include hostile environments with extreme conditions such as frost, flooding, drought, building developments or intensive farming.

High Biodiversity in Hampton Lucy Parish
Areas of high biodiversity in Hampton Lucy Parish are:

  • Allotments where there are areas less well cultivated and some that have native species deliberately planted to enhance biodiversity (OS 254569 and 257572)
  • Clump Hill (OS 245595) *
  • Copdock Hill (OS 255593)
  • Far ends of both the playing field and Parish field (OS 252571 and 257572)
  • Hedgerows
  • Hampton Gorse (OS 248585) *
  • Hampton Wood and Meadow (OS 255598)
  • Half Moon Spinney (OS 252566) *
  • Hampton Lucy Spinney (OS 253573)
  • Hatton Rock (OS 234575)
  • Ryehill Spinney (OS 252574) *
  • Scar bank (OS 257586)
  • The River Avon and its banks (OS 2557 and 2558)

*not accessible by public or permissive footpaths.

There is evidence of otters in the river Avon at Hampton Lucy and of course the high biodiversity of this area will be destroyed forever if the proposal for opening up the river for navigation goes ahead.

Left: Lady’s bedstraw growing wild
in one the allotments.

All these areas of higher biodiversity are characterised by woodland or a wide variety of other plant life and less intensive management by humans.

Hampton Lucy Spinney (OS 253573)
This used to be the old allotments. In 2005, a variety of native trees was planted. It was the brainchild of the late Dr Alan Scaife, Parish Clerk at the time in 2005. Sadly, he died in January 2015.

With the help of Mike Sill, Martin Weetman, Mike Woodman, Huw and Jackie Williams, John and Hilary Dunkerton, Derrick Clarke and others, the Spinney was born. The ground was cleared and the trees were planted. Fifty-six trees were obtained from Stratford District Council and comprised 7 Birches (Betula pendula), 2 Hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna), Oaks (Quercus robur), 4 Hazels (Corylus avellana), 6 Ashes (Fraxinus excelsior), 4 Blackthorns (Prunus spinose), 6 Field Maples (Acer campestre), 5 Limes (Tilia cordata), 7 Wild Cherries (Prunus avium), 4 Goat Willows (Salix Capria), 1 Box Elder (Acer negundo) and 2 Crab Apples (Malus sylvestris). In the next couple of years, bluebells and primroses were also planted by people who ‘adopted’ different parts of the Spinney and by 2008, the spinney was flourishing. In 2010, there was a biodiversity day with tour of the spinney and a ‘name the tree’ competition.

By 2016, the spinney was well established and many other plant species had begun to flourish together with associated animal life. The photographs show blue comfrey (Symphytum officinale) now flourishing in the damp conditions of part of the spinney and shows how well established the spinney is.

The only ‘management’ of the spinney is to maintain just one path through for access. This has allowed other species to become established over the years.

In 2017, a hedge that been removed by Charles Church illegally during building work was replaced with 80 two-year old blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and field maple plants, all native species. Other pieces of hedge that were removed will replaced in autumn 2018.

Recent surveys in 2017 and 2018 showed plant species such as Yarrow, Nettles, Cleavers, Fat Hen, various grasses, Dandelions, Docks, Thistles, Brambles, Elder, Bindweed, Comfrey, Cow Parsley and various other Umbelliferae. There were also moths such as Cinnabars, Silver ‘Y’s or Skippers and butterflies such as Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns, Common Blues, Large Whites, Small Whites, Green Veined Whites, Gatekeepers, Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells. In addition, there were Damselflies, Dragonflies, Flies, Beetles, Shield bugs, Hoverflies, Leaf miners, Bees and Spiders.

Hampton Wood and Meadow (OS 255598)
This reserve is managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. It is famous for its primroses, bluebells, wood anemone and lesser celandine. Red campion and foxglove thrive alongside ground-ivy and yellow archangel, strawberry, violets and bugle.
Damp-loving hard shield-fern and liverworts appear along the stream’s banks with hart’s-tongue in the gully, and rare lichens grow on some trees. Over 200 species of fungi emerge here, from morels to giant puffball and shaggy parasol.

Twenty-eight butterfly species live in these woods including white-letter and purple hair streaks, white admiral and holly blue. Over 500 species of beetle have been discovered and the woods are abundant with dragonflies and damselflies.

Birds are numerous with over 30 species recorded during the early summer months. Spring welcomes many warblers and woodcock over winters here. Kingfishers are regularly seen at this site as they dart into the Avon for fish.

The flood meadow has many wetland and marsh plants including hemlock, creeping buttercup and meadowsweet, and plays home to a colony of breeding toads.

Low Biodiversity in Hampton Lucy
In Hampton Lucy Parish, areas of lower biodiversity will be found in places like the centre of the playing field, the parish field, any garden lawn or cultivated farmland. Here, the dominant species will be grass or crops and the biodiversity is low because these areas are intensively managed. Areas of lower biodiversity are often the direct effect of human interaction with the natural environment. It could be farming practices or it could be building developments.

How is biodiversity measured?
Biodiversity can be easily measured using a Simpson’s Biodiversity Index (D)

where N = the total number of organisms of all species

n = the total number of organisms of each species

and ∑ = the sum of

The formula shows that if there are no plants because the soil is bare then D will be 0.

However, if an area of mown grass contains only the same grass plants then D will now be 1 because the top and bottom of the calculation are the same.

If the area contained 50% of two plant species, then D is 2.02. If the area contained 30% of three different plant species, then D is 3.07 even though there are actually less plants overall.

D is therefore a useful measure of the biodiversity in an area of land.

So, sampling in the centre of the playing field showed the presence of mainly grass but also a few dandelion species, ribbed plantains, yarrow and clover. No animal species were observed. The Biodiversity index was measured as only 1.2.

However, in Hampton Lucy Spinney, there was a much greater variety of wildlife as described above with a Biodiversity of index of at least 7.9, much greater than that of the playing field. However, this value of 7.9 is probably an underestimate because many animal species are camouflaged, hiding from predators or just move about, making it difficult to count. Ideally the animals would be counted using sweep nets, by shaking the trees onto mats or using traps.

Biodiversity will form an important part of Hampton Lucy’s neighbourhood plan and it is hoped that the Parish Council will work closely with landowners, parishioners and Warwickshire County Council to:

  • try and ensure that hedgerows are not removed unnecessarily and that they are not cut during bird nesting time;
  • try and minimise the use of pesticides or herbicides;
  • liaise with Warwickshire County Council Ecological services to monitor any changes to biodiversity in the Parish and consider ways in which it can be increased;
  • try and improve public access to all areas of natural interest;
  • encourage the planting of more trees in the parish both in public spaces and on private land, including gardens.
  • try and ensure that when any building development takes place, any loss of biodiversity will be replaced;
  • help raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity being maintained or increased.