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Saturday, 3 May 2014

One for the kids

Our friends at Milford Conservation Volunteers, have sent in the story below for all to enjoy:

A BED TIME STORY FOR SUMMER ~ 'Urgent Meeting Request'

It was a lovely sunny spring morning on Studland Common. I checked my watch to make sure I was in good time, which was just as well. Yesterday I had received a telephone call from one of our local residents insisting on an urgent meeting to discuss recent work done on the nature reserve. The resident had sounded a bit agitated, so I hoped I might be able to explain and placate the caller and his three friends, who he wished to bring along.

Hearing rustling behind me, I turned to find myself confronted by a bear, a small pig, a tiger and a donkey.

“Hello” said the bear. “My name is Pooh”. “Hello Pooh” I said shaking him by the paw. “These are my three friends” said Pooh. “We all live here”. “This is Piglet” he said. “Hello” squeaked Piglet. “And this is Tigger”, said Pooh. “Worraworraworra” said Tigger, jumping in and out of a large muddy puddle. “And this is Eeyore”, said Pooh. “Morning”, said Eeyore gloomily and getting splattered in mud from Tigger’s antics.

“So how can I help you?” I said. “You probably can’t”, said Eeyore. “But you never know”, said Piglet. “We’ve got a list”, said Pooh importantly, rummaging around in his left wellington boot. “Oh that’s helpful”, I said. “It’s always useful to have an agenda”. “We haven’t got one of those”, said Pooh. “Owl told us that a list is what we should bring and he is very wise”. So he wrote one out for us. Can I read it to you?” “What a good idea”, I said.

Pooh cleared his throat and started reading the list. “Meating beatween represententivs of 23 akre wood and sum wonne from Milfod Conservayshun Voluntears. For diskushun. Item 1. Wy hav yu choppd down lotts of treez and shrubs?” Pooh then folded the piece of paper into four and put it in his right wellington boot.

“Is there anything else on Owl’s list?” I asked. “No”, said Pooh that’s all. “It’s a small list, but it’s a very big question.”

“You see”, said Piglet “we’re very worried that you’re going to carry on chopping down the trees and then we won’t have anywhere to live.” “Oh no, that definitely isn’t going to happen,” I said. “Let me explain what we’ve done and why. And while we’re talking let’s have a walk around the reserve so I can show you what it looks like.”

Off they set as I explained. “You see, many years ago, this land used to be a beautiful common with lots of wildflowers, hundreds of butterflies and lots of different birds. Over the years it became overgrown with lots of dense vegetation and small sapling trees started to grow and take over. Now that the saplings have grown into large trees and the scrub has spread the light can’t get in, the flowers don’t grow and a lot of the butterflies and birds disappeared. So last year we started clearing the first area of scrub and some of the trees so that we could turn this part back into a beautiful meadow again and create the right habitat for the birds and butterflies to return”.

“I like habitat,” said Tigger. “I went there once with Kanga and Roo. We had such fun bouncing on all the different beds and opening all the cupboard doors”. “That’s a different sort of habitat,” I said patiently. “The right habitat for a butterfly means there’s plenty of food for the caterpillars and for the butterflies, and there’s the right amount of sun and shelter and it’s a safe place for them all to live.” ……….I would normally have mentioned courtship and mating, but didn’t feel up to explaining such matters to the current audience.

“I’ve got a happitat too”, said Piglet. “I need lots of oak trees so I can eat all the haycorns.” That’s right,” I said. “We all need the right habitat.”

“So are you going to cut down all the trees?” asked Pooh. “Definitely not”, I said. “Your wood and the common are very special places. They are both designated as Local Nature Reserves and a SINC.” They all looked a bit perplexed! “I havn’t seen no sinks”, said Eeyore. “I’ve seen a water trough for our friends Oscar and Olive the Dexter cattle, but definitely no sinks – do they have taps?”. I explained. “A SINC stands for a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and no-one is allowed to chop down all the trees. The Volunteers, Milford-on-Sea Parish Council and Natural England consider that the grounds are of great local importance and being home to lots of rare species, like yourselves” I said as I crossed my fingers behind my back because I knew that the SINC designation documents wouldn’t have listed bears, pigs, tiger and donkeys as a reason for conferring SINC status, but I certainly didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

“That’s very good to hear,” said Pooh. “It makes me proud to live in such an important and highly valued place. I hope you always take care of it for us.”

“So have you had any more butterflies and birds since you chopped down some of the trees and scrub?” asked Piglet. “Oh yes we’ve already seen more species”, I said. “And for the first time in a very long time we’ve seen Brimstone butterflies that lay their eggs on either Common Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn and there appear to be more beautiful Bullfinches around.

“The Butterflies also love feeding on the nectar from wildflowers” I said. “Oh dear,” said Eeyore glumly. “I knew it all sounded too good to be true. You’ve all got your happitat safe and sound and I’ve got an un-happitat because all these new butterflies are eating my food.” “Oh Eeyore, don’t worry. The butterflies are really small and they don’t have big appetites as you. There’ll be plenty of food for you,” I said. “In fact, now that the meadow is back there will be plenty more food for everyone to eat”. “Really?” said Eeyore smiling contentedly. “I think you might just have made me feel very happy.”

“Well,” Pooh said, I think it is time for lunch. Thank you very much for making us all happy again.” And off they all went back into the meadow to play with Olive, Oscar and friends without a care in the world. - THE END -

With sincere thanks for inspiration to author A.A.Milne and Penny Jeffreys of Hampshire Butterfly Conservation for her fun idea of promoting simple conservation messages to children ……..and adults.

To find out more about Milford Conservation Volunteers, please visit;

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