Nature conservation of the Mar project

This work will assess the ecological, hydrological and arboreal environment to determine the optimum way to manage the Mar for the future. A survey will be undertaken - probably during summer 2017. This will inform a future grant application for any work identified. In addition there will be some legal investigations to ensure the future management of the Mar is compliant with its status as common land and any remaining owners.

The work will include:
  • a habitat survey (including notes on birds using the site)
  • vegetation survey - with the presence/potential presence of legally protected or notable species or invasive plant species identified
  • aquatic plant and invertebrate surveys
  • hydrological assessment and recommendations for ongoing maintenance to ensure long-term operation - identifying the inputs, outputs and water levels, water chemistry etc.
  • a legal investigation to determine the current state of ownership of the Mar. It was designated as Common Land (no. 261) in 1974 (see map below), but ownership, originally with the Nussey family, passed to John Gay in South Africa. We hope to find out the status of John Gay and/or his estate/heirs, and if that proves fruitless, to establish appropriate structures and processes to manage the Mar for the future.

[Update - October 2018]
The main Mar works have now been completed. We have cleared the willow, removed silts, reopened the outfall and created new ponds and a footpath across the site (which won't be dry enough to be used for a few weeks yet). There are more works to do including installing bat and bird boxes and a life buoy, removing some more self seeded willow from the road side of the Mar and planting new trees and grass seeding. We also still have work to do to the north bank to remove tipped rubbish and plant new trees but this won't be done until the new year. There are some photos attached showing some during and after shots including one of our ecologist Bernadette who has been pivotal in facilitating the project in light of the great crested newts present.

[Update - August 2018]
Planned activities in August:
  • Spraying of Crassula Helmsii (a highly invasive species that is spreading at The Mar)
  • Locate and re-build the collapsed outfall
  • Flail rank vegetation (in part to reduce seeding Himalayan Balsam)
  • Willow removal/tree thinning
  • Mark out and create 2 new small ponds in the northern area of The Mar (this will provide better habitat for Great Crested Newts in different water level conditions)
  • Mark out area for accepting silt scrape where former cricket pitch was in north east corner
Planned activities in September:
  • Sensitive Silt Scrapes with arisings to be deposited and levelled in north east corner to create a small amenity area for the village
  • Other works include the installation of a measuring pole, bat and bird boxes and a lifebuoy and generally making good which the contractor will carry out at its discretion.
Please bear with us whilst we carry out the works. It will be messy for a while but the land will recover. We hope these works will hold back the succession of the Mar to woodland for many years to come and ensure the site continues to play a key role as a locally important site for wildlife. One other thing - it is not the intention to turn the pond into a pond with a stable water level. The water level in this pond is supposed to fluctuate and even dry out over the seasons (i.e. no fish!). It is this feature that makes it important ecologically and is why it is such an important site for Great Crested Newts amongst other things. However the works we do should set a maximum water level such that the pond won't flood in winter.

The Parish Council continues to progress the purchase of the land and is hopeful this will be concluded this year, although it is slow going. In the meantime the landowner has given us permission to carry out these works
[Update - April 2018]
Various components of the work on the Mar have been identified and will take place this year.
  • Clear the north side of the Mar, remove the willow scrub and thin the trees on the east side
  • Dig out the willow stumps, carry out "sensitive scraping" of silt in the pond, rebuild the outfall on the south side, add a measuring pole, bat and bird boxes, carry out planting and seeding [late summer]
  • Flail the Himalyan balsam, to prevent it reseeding
DTMS Group, Pateley Bridge, have been appointed to carry out this work (tel: 01765 620400). It is estimated that the work will take around a year to complete.

[Update - September 2017]
The Parish Council is now working up a scope of works for the environmental improvements at The Mar

Documents available