While having worked for very many years as a marine geophysicist (with a background in both geology and botany), in his spare time onshore Francis Farrow has worked on the management of Beeston Common and recording its wildlife. His talk traced the formation of the Common through various periods of human history, and how it was affected by grazing, collecting fuel, hunting, farming the surrounding land or by housebuilding alongside. He then looked at the recent nature conservation and restoration work and the gains and losses encountered since earlier studies, such as that undertaken by a local teacher, Miss Danvers. Her photographs of c.1940 can be compared with those taken in 2018 and landscape changes can be seen, such as woodland where before there was just open grassland. Francis showed what a variety there now is of plants, birds and insects. Animals such as muntjacs, rabbits and roe deer graze there and even adders can be found on the heath! In 1983 the Beeston Common Management Group was formed. In fact, the site is an SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) and part of the Norfolk Lowland Valley Fens international SAC (Special Area of Conservation). Francis showed that all the recent work has impressively increased biodiversity, including many flowers and types of butterfly. Although the future is uncertain, particularly in terms of funding, it is still a site with great potential.
Leave a Reply