Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) is a community conservation charity dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the habitats and heritage, and caring for the shared green spaces of the Manhood Peninsula, south of Chichester.
Founded in 1997, originally as the Selsey Parish Map Group, we produced the first Parish Biodiversity Action Plan in the UK. Our activities now cover the entire Manhood Peninsula, all eleven parishes and some beyond. We have some 100 active members who get involved at all levels in our work and enable us to realise and maintain improvements to local green spaces.
The then Selsey Parish Map Group was established in Selsey in 1997 with the aim of mapping the heritage and natural habitats of the Parish of Selsey, in order to celebrate them and help to preserve them for the future. Our activities now cover the entire Manhood Peninsula including all its eleven parishes and some parishes beyond. The name of the group was changed to the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group [MWHG] as this more accurately reflects the scope of our work.
The Habitat Map
The Phase 1 Habitat Survey of Selsey Parish was completed by volunteers in 2000, according to a set of guidelines produced by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. The results of the vegetation survey were placed on a map which was colour-coded to show the different types of vegetation, such as grassland, woodland and reedbed. The map was then digitised and today provides a tool to make it possible to protect the habitats and the species found in the local area. The project was completed in close collaboration with local landowners, special interest groups, and others with good local knowledge. At the same time, a Selsey Parish Map was produced, as part of the West Sussex Parish Maps project. The habitat map was used as the background for this.
The Biodiversity Action Plan – BAP
The Selsey Parish Biodiversity Plan was drawn up based on the map. It was the first Parish Biodiversity Action Plan in the UK. It is composed of a series of actions designed to ensure that the proposed local actions translated the already identified national and regional conservation aims into practice, to protect the local wildlife and enhance the places where it lives.
The Wildlife Officer
From 2004-2010 a Selsey Wildlife Officer was appointed to, initially, implement the Selsey BAP and then, as Manhood Wildlife Officer [MWO], to spread our activities out across the Manhood Peninsula. The main focus of her work was to engage people, of all ages and abilities, in action for wildlife. Her work involved raising awareness, encouraging, co-ordinating and enthusing a growing band of volunteers, leading tasks, organising training, promoting the project through the media, giving presentations to community groups, liaising with landowners, schools, local authorities and anyone interested in our work.
In 2010 the MWO took on the role of Community Wildlife Officer to lead a Recreational Disturbance Mitigation Project in Chichester and the Bournes – Fishbourne, Nutbourne, Southbourne, managed in partnership by Chichester District Council and the group. The group has responsibility for implementing this project across the wider Manhood.
Water Vole Project Officer
In 2012, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund, a Water Vole Project officer was employed to co-ordinate an Action Plan for Water Voles on the Manhood. Her work is now supported and complemented by a Wetlands Project Officer, funded by grants from a number of organisations.
The endangered Water Vole is the fastest declining mammal in Britain but the network of ditches and rifes on the Manhood Peninsula provide a local stronghold for this national treasure, immortalised in ‘Wind in the Willows’. The project aims to create a ‘Vole Patrol’ of volunteers to assess ditches in relation to what Water Voles need, in order to draw up enhancement plans, and to carry out surveys to monitor Water Vole populations. It also aims to raise the profile of the species and its requirements via communication with key groups, such as Parish councils and landowners, and through the production of education packs and programmes for schools and other educational establishments.
Much of this work is very successfully underway but further funding will be required to maintain the experience, commitment and enthusiasm of the Project Officers, and thus fully implement the Action Plan for Water Voles. Most importantly, if water Voles are doing well, so will many other creatures. They are a good indicator of a healthy natural environment.
Management and Organisation
The work of the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group staff and volunteers has been acknowledged with many awards:
Heritage Lottery Funding - the group is just at the start of a 4 year HLF funded 'FLOW' project to fix and link the wetlands of the Manhood Peninsula.