Nomination for Joy Fifer MBE to be one of Birmingham City Council's 100 Inspiring Women

To celebrate 100 years since some women got the vote, Birmingham City Council are publishing a book featuring Birmingham women who shaped our city. We’re nominating Joy Fifer MBE and here’s why… PS – the more people who nominate Joy the more likely her story will be included – please email in support of Joy with your own reasons and memories – feel free to link to this post or any other information on our website Email your nomination to InspiringWomen@birmingham.gov.uk but hurry, we only have till Sunday 18th March!
Joy Fifer

Credit: @WTBBC

Joy Fifer was the founder of the urban conservation movement and without her The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country wouldn’t exist.

Moseley Bog was the childhood playground of The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, who lived nearby. He stated that the site inspired the 'old forest' in his books. People come from all over the world to discover his inspiration for themselves.

In 1980 plans were announced to build 22 detached houses on Moseley Bog. This sparked local resident Joy Fifer to start the ‘Save Our Bog’ campaign. As a direct result of Joy’s campaign in 1986 Birmingham City Council prevented the development by purchasing a section of the land.

The following year volunteers planted trees and wildflower seeds and in 1999 the area of meadow, hedgerow and woodland next to the Bog was named Joy’s Wood after Joy Fifer. Joy was awarded a "Supermillenium Hero of Moseley" award by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 2000 and the MBE in 2001 in recognition of her services to nature conservation. Even more amazing, Joy did all this whilst suffering 15 years of serious illness leading to a lung transplant in August 2001. Although she recovered from the operation she sadly passed away two years later.

Joy lived in Moseley her whole life, with her four children and husband Alan, who still lives there and is the Life president of the Friends of Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood. Alan has said that Joy’s great talent was her ability to mobilise people, and her legacy lives on.

The campaign inspired local conservationists to found the Urban Wildlife Group, which become the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country - the first Wildlife Trust in the country to serve a wholly urban area. This matters because until the Urban Wildlife Trust came into existence, conservation was seen as a rural affair however the wildlife of Birmingham and the Black Country is as varied and valuable as that in any other part of the UK. From scarce mammals like watervoles, pole cats and otters to kingfishers, woodpeckers and a huge variety of flora.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country was awarded the prestigious international NGO Impact Award by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) in 2017 for their work in leading the Nature Improvement Area (NIA), the only urban area to be designated an NIA. The scheme has improved 250 sites across Birmingham and the Black Country for nature, 220 hectares of woodland, meadow and heathland enhanced for wildlife to thrive and has been helped by over 5,000 volunteers.

It is now widely accepted that good quality green space is good for our physical and mental health which makes urban green space, by the very nature surrounded by high populations, even more important. In 2010 Moseley Bog & Joy’s Wood became a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. Last year 200,000 people visited The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country nature reserves, many of them visiting Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood. Each year the Trust provides wild education for 8,430 school children, 4,500 people attend 350 events and 8,700 volunteers donate 35,000 hours of time to help wildlife thrive, including the Friends of Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood who are still volunteering and work with the Trust to organise regular work days and family events. The Trust wouldn’t be connecting generations of people with nature if Joy hadn’t had the determination to ‘Save Our Bog’ and our city would be the poorer for it.

At a time when 56% of all UK species are in decline and 8 priority species have been lost entirely from the UK between 2002-2008 it is more important than ever that we honour Joy Fifer by building on her legacy and protecting our wild spaces for people and wildlife.

There is a wonderful interview with Joy from the Birmingham Post here 


Wild About Gardens, Ponds for all booklet

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