'Nature of Wyre' published

Tuesday 19th January 2016

Wyre Forest (c) Rosemary WinnallWyre Forest (c) Rosemary Winnall

The culmination of 25 years of research and study by volunteers has now been realised in the publication of a ground-breaking book.

Nature of Wyre book authors, editors and Prof Chris Baines (c) Mark PeacockThe Nature of Wyre’ is the first comprehensive natural history of the Wyre Forest, one of the richest lowland oak forests in the British Isles and Worcestershire’s largest woodland. It has involved more than 50 contributors including four managing editors and 24 authors.

Rosemary Winnall, organiser of the project, explained “Wyre Forest is exceptionally important for wildlife as well as a wonderful place for people to live in and visit. At over 2600 hectares and with an interesting geology and fascinating history, its rich flora and fauna has attracted people for many years.

“The idea for a book about the natural history of Wyre Forest came about in 2006.

“Its launch this year not only celebrates the wildlife for which Wyre Forest is renowned but it also commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Wyre Forest Study Group, without which the book would not have been possible.”

Studying the wildlife of Wyre

Members of the Wyre Forest Study Group (c) Rosemary WinnallIn 1991 the Wyre Forest Study Group was established by Forestry Commission Conservation Officer, Peter Hobson, who drew together local people who were actively studying wildlife in the area.

There are now more than 50 members including a core of about 20 active naturalists who take part in surveys and projects associated with Wyre’s wildlife.

In recent years the group has concentrated on finding and mapping Wyre’s special creatures including the snow flea and lemon slug.

Rosemary continued “The Group would like to pay tribute to everyone who has contributed to the book. The managing editors are all experienced naturalists and, like the other 20 authors, are experts in their own fields.

“The book covers all aspects of Wyre’s wildlife from dragonflies and deer to fungi and frogs. Many of the authors live in the Wyre Forest area or have been undertaking research here for many years.

“The book is also richly illustrated with more than 600 photographs, many of which have been taken in the Wyre by talented local photographers.”

A wealth of expertise

The managing editors were Rosemary Winnall MBE, Brett Westwood, Harry Green MBE and Peter Shirley MBE.

Rosemary Winnall and The Nature of Wyre bookRosemary is a founder member of the Wyre Forest Study Group, committee member of Worcestershire Recorders and a keen wildlife photographer. Brett is currently a writer and broadcaster, having been a producer with the BBC Natural History Unit for 16 years until 2014.

Harry was a founder member of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, former Chairman of British Trust for Ornithology and editor of the Worcestershire Record. Peter has been involved with the Wildlife Trusts for 35 years and is currently Chair of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and Black Country.

Chapter authors and contributors include Mike Averill from Kidderminster, the Worcestershire dragonfly recorder, Phil Rudlin from the Forestry Commission who has overseen an ongoing dormouse study in Ribbesford Woods, and John Bingham from Kidderminster who has made special studies of Wyre’s fungi and beetles, both groups for which the Forest is nationally important.

Knowles Coppice (c) Rosemary WinnallWyre plays an important role in Worcestershire’s landscape and is home to many species of wildlife that have disappeared throughout much of the Midlands, such as pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and scarce seven-spot ladybirds.

The mixture of habitats including woodlands, stony streams, old orchards, meadows and the River Severn provide homes for land caddis, white-clawed crayfish, lesser spotted woodpecker, hawfinch, orchids, waxcap fungi, salmon and lampreys to name but a few.

The ‘Nature of Wyre’ brings all of this together and the project has been supported by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Grow With Wyre scheme.

The book is available to buy direct from the publishers, NatureBureau.

Tagged with: Publications, Nature of Wyre, Wyre Forest