New Volunteer Programme June 2019

Please click the link below to discover Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership’s programme of volunteer tasks this June 2019.

BVCP Volunteer Task Programme June 2019

Whats tasks are being run near you?

This months tasks feature path cutting and construction.

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Installing a bench at Gerry’s Copse

General task information:

  • We provide tea, coffee, biscuits, tools and training
  • Please bring lunch (if you want to stay for the afternoon) and clothing suitable for the weather
  • If you are under 16 please bring an adult who can stay with you for the task

If you’ve never volunteered before and would like to join or simply know more please contact us via;

  • Office number: 01252 331353
  • Email: blackwater.valley@hants.gov.uk

Ranger Jenny

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Ash Green Meadow Access

Recently I have been lucky enough to have had the BVCP (Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership) volunteers with me at our new S.A.N.G (Suitable alternative Natural Greenspace) site at Ash Green Meadows. The main purpose for the two tasks was to re position the already installed metal kissing gates, install two 14ft metal field gates and extend the fencing.

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The reason to install the new field gates is to allow vehicle access to the meadows so they can be topped with a tractor. This is essential to allow us to manage the grassland to promote flora and fauna.  20190412_144612.jpg20190416_154603.jpg

All the volunteers on both days done a fantastic job and managed to get all the work done within the two days, I can say at points looked unlikely, all credit to all involved the results are fantastic.

Thanks again for all of your hard digging and work.

Ranger Stu

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The First Signs of Success

Whilst out chipping with Assistant Ranger Matt and Student Josh we stumbled across some fresh new spring growth peaking through the woodland floor in Puckridge, Wellesley Woodlands.  These signs of life are from the hard work Ranger Jenny and the BVC Volunteers put in last year, sowing woodland wildflowers as part of the BVC Trust project.

Below are 4 different species: Can you identify them?

Ranger Laura

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New Volunteer Programme May 2019

Please click the link below to discover Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership’s programme of volunteer tasks in May 2019.

Click on the link if you would like to know whats going on in an area near you:

BVCP Volunteer Task Programme May 2019

The growing season is in full swing, so this month we will be cutting back paths so everyone can enjoy getting out and about!

BVCP volunteers tea break Grants Moor

BVC volunteers enjoying a well earned tea break after some heath land restoration at Grants Moor

Joining a volunteer task has many benefits such as:

  • your chance to make a real contribution to local conservation
  • a good way to stay fit and healthy
  • a great opportunity to meet new friends who share your love of nature.

If you’ve never volunteered before and would like to join or simply know more please contact us via;

  • Office number: 01252 331353
  • Email: blackwater.valley@hants.gov.uk

Ranger Jenny

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Prickly Problem Becomes Princely Prize

On the 19th March the BVC Volunteers joined Matt, Stu and I in the car park at the junction of Queen’s Avenue and Prince’s Avenue, Aldershot to tackle an overgrown, long neglected hawthorn hedge that borders an MOD car park. Whilst the car park itself is not part of Wellesley Woodlands, the edge is and it was time to give it some love.

The volunteers started by removing the overshadowing laurel which was outcompeting the hawthorn, gradually killing it off and creating gaps. Unfortunately people have been using the gaps to flytip and litter through and by the end of the day the volunteers had filled two trailers full of litter and old MOD debris.

We tucked Stu away in one corner with Paul and Janet to tackle the larger laurel with a chainsaw whilst I stood guard at the car park entrance as they dropped through the hedge onto the tarmac.

   

  

Once the hedge was visible, Mike topped and sided the wayward growth to give it some shape. Just removing the laurel and tidying up the remaining hawthorn made a world of difference but we weren’t done yet!

Ranger Laura

On Thursday 21st March Laura, Nicci and I returned to the car park. This time I was in charge, leading my first volunteer task. Firstly, I would like to take a moment to thank the volunteers for the kindness they showed me on the day, which included welcome biscuits, even though my fellow rangers had asked them to challenge me with awkward questions!

Whilst Paul got stuck in to removing some well and truly buried metalwork that Vic and Ed had started on the Tuesday, the rest of the volunteers started digging the holes in preparation for planting the holly bushes as well as continuing the mass litter pick.

As the number of holes being dug racked up, Laura and I were waiting with baited breath for the arrival of the holly bushes that had previously been delayed. Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted Jenny coming to our rescue with a trailer loaded with 71 holly bushes. The volunteers soon got to work planting these, whilst Jenny jumped on the chainsaw to top the larger laurel stumps which had been cut down on the Tuesday.

Can you spot the new holly bushes in the picture below?

Once Paul had recovered all the metal work, he was joined by Janet and Sarah to create a dead hedge using the cut laurel and hawthorn to protect the area behind our neatened and newly created hedge.

Thanks again to all the volunteers that worked so hard and carefully on both days, especially when you can find ex-MOD debris like live bullets.

Assistant Ranger Matt

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Women In Construction Careers Event at Wellesley

Grainger Plc, which is building new homes at Wellesley, Aldershot, ran a Women in Construction Careers Event in March to inspire female students from local colleges to consider a career in construction, and to dispel the myth that it is a male-only industry.

The students from Farnborough Sixth Form College and Aldershot Construction College were first taken on an in-depth tour of the McGrigor phase of the development. Built by CALA Homes, this phase consists of 108 homes and includes the conversion of the Victorian era McGrigor Barracks into terraced houses.

The group then heard fascinating presentations from women in a wide range of careers on site, showcasing the many varied roles and career routes that are available to women wishing to work in the world of construction; Sustainability and Community Managers from Grainger plc, Ecologists from Holbury Consultancy, Engineers from Mayer Brown, Rangers from Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, Project Managers from R&M Regeneration Management, and Estate Managers from Strutt & Parker.

“We were delighted to be involved in such a fantastic event supporting women and educating them about their options for a growing and evolving industry.” – Nicola French, Director at Holbury Consultancy

The informal nature of the event meant that students were able to ask questions and engage in a dialogue with the speakers, receiving personal advice and guidance. The key message from the event was that you don’t need a degree to progress within the industry and that there are numerous routes in, with options to change roles later in life.

“It’s been mind-blowing to find out about all the different jobs that I never knew existed, I really want to work on site now,” said one student from Aldershot Construction College.

A fantastic additional outcome of the event has been that several work experience opportunities have since been arranged; one student is now doing work experience with a view to completing an apprenticeship with Strutt & Parker, and Barratt David Wilson Homes have offered work experience opportunities to another two students who attended.

“Grainger Plc is passionate about widening the div ersity of it’s workforce, not just in gender and race, but also in the routes people have taken to reach us. We are so grateful to all the amazing women who helped make this event such a success.” – Jennifer Upstill, Community Development Manager at Wellesley, Grainger Plc

For more information on opportunities at Wellesley, please visit www.wellesleyhampshire.co.uk

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Enterprising Equines

On Dartmoor mounted rangers have worked for several years, where they clear the military live firing ranges of livestock and people, to ensure everyone is safe. At Blackwater Valley we’re always looking for innovative ways to increase our sustainability, like last year when I tested out new electric chainsaws and hedge-trimmers.  Our diverse team includes two colleagues with experience with horses, so we’re currently evaluating extending our equine rangering.

Traditional farming methods using horses have been demonstrated on open days in the Blackwater Valley, such as towing sleds of hay, and dragging felled trees out of woodlands that are inaccessible for vehicles.

We’re now looking at introducing mounted patrols on some of our larger sites, where we can reduce our reliance on vehicles. A local rescue stables have a couple of Australian Stock Horses which are un-phased by livestock and dogs ideal for our more public sites. Whilst we’re investigating sourcing a robust Clydesdale for myself.

Our trucks currently carry an assortment of tools for our work, so we’ve found a local artisan fabricator to build an adapted horse cart for our kit, with modifications for extra horse shoes and mower attachments. Whilst other mounted patrols, unhampered by the extra equipment, will be sped up since we won’t need to open gates and can simply jump them.

However we must be cautious we’re not putting the cart before the horse, since we’ll need to book in horse riding and equine care training for all our rangers. We plan to have a small scale trial up and running by July, with a review one year from now on 1st April.

Senior Ranger Stuart

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