In November 2013 BOAG was awarded with funding from The Alice Noakes Memorial Charitable Trust to work on experimental barn owl nest boxes. This followed issues the group was having with recent imports of poor quality exterior grade plywood (used in nest box construction) which lead to many nest boxes delaminating and degrading in the wet and damp weather. BOAG initially switched to using the more expensive marine plywood for box construction. Then funding became available for the group to experiment with different materials and also provided an opportunity for the group to look at different nest box designs. BOAG was looking for an alternative durable material to construct a box that was not too weighty to install in a tree whilst considering cost implications.
BOAG constructed boxes using various recycled plastic sheets of different thicknesses and worked on different designs veering away from the usual 'A' frame box design, to curved and angled roof tops. The recycled plastic sheets have provided a material which is flexible to work with and which should be weather proof. The new box designs have been installed and are now trialling. BOAG is hoping for barn owls to occupy and start breeding in the new nest boxes as this will be a good gauge of their success.
On the back of the funding from The Alice Noakes Memorial Charitable Trust BOAG has recently been awarded with match funding from the Churnet Valley Living Landscapes Project (CVLLP) and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The CVLLP borders the Peak District and Staffordshire Moorlands around Leek, which is a stronghold for barn owls in Staffordshire. Following 2013, which was a devastating year for breeding barn owls, the funding from CVLLP will enable BOAG to install ten barn owl nest boxes. These will be at sites with good barn owl habitat in the stronghold and project area. By installing nest boxes at sites of good barn owl habitat the project will help to conserve a species which is part of the integral biodiversity of the region by providing much needed roost and nest sites and so helping to conserve part of the natural heritage of the area.