This week I had the pleasure of running a new volunteer task at Ash Green Meadows, meeting at the new car park. We have recently been handed the reins from Land Trust to manage this new SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) site now known as Ash Green Meadows. Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership (BVCP), are a ranger team who work along the Blackwater Valley to help manage many sites and keep the connectivity through the valley open and accessible.
It was great to see so many willing local people and BVCP Volunteers come out to help, with a bumper turnout of 16. After a introduction from myself we were joined by Peter who is the local dog warden who kindly gave a talk about how he can help to keep the site a happy and safe environment for all users as well as dog walkers. The day was nice and sunny which was a welcome change from previous days, with colleagues Jenny and Bobbie who were kind enough to come and help we set to work.
The main job was to improve one of the kissing gates which had lots of trip hazards and had seen better days. The redundant stile was replaced with new fencing, low branches removed and type 1 aggregate added to bring the path up to a level surface. Please see the before and after photos below.
Newly improved gateway
Thanks to the huge turnout we also managed to;
- Cut back overhanging branches on the paths.
- Opened up the canopy to improve light on the bridges to help dry them out.
- Removed a redundant stile.
- Blew leaves off the boardwalk and surfaced paths.
- Stapled down loose chicken wire on the bridges
- Removed more barbed wire, old metal gates and even a kitchen sink!
It was a great volunteer task with lots of positive comments from visitors while we were all working. I would like to thank Cllr Jo Randall and everyone who came on the day and look forward to working with you in the future.
The wet weather at the start of the day wasn’t enough to deter the Southwood Woodland Improvement Group this month. Our mission was threefold and nothing could stop us not even double layers of concrete!
Our main task was to open up the heathland glade by digging out tree saplings and cutting back Broom and European gorse. This habitat gives us a great insight into what the area may have looked like back when it was a medieval farm.
Heathland glade after scrub clearance
Heathlands were a big part of the farming system heather for thatch, turves for fuel, bracken for bedding and potash and gorse for bread ovens and livestock fodder. Grazing and tree removal in this area hundreds of years ago will have caused the nutrient levels in the soil to fall further and the acidity to increase, which will have encouraged heather to grow. Without this task the glade would naturally develop back into woodland. By cutting back the scrub encroachment we can keep a diversity of habitats and the local history alive.
Having a fire is a great way to get rid of the cut vegetation and keep us all warm!
The volunteers also removed a fingerpost that had unfortunately been vandalised. It took a lot longer than expected because there was not one but TWO layers of concrete holding the post in!
We also sowed seeds and planted bulbs as part of the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust project to improve the understory of woodlands in the Blackwater Valley. The seeds and bulbs included different native species chosen for their ability to thrive in shady areas underneath the woodland canopy. Keep an eye out next Spring for wildlfowers.
Thank you very much to all the volunteers for their hard work.
If you would like to find out more or join us, please meet us at 10:30am at the Kennels Lane entrance on Sunday 24th November.
After a fantastic effort today from the whole Ranger Team, we’ve cleared historic rubbish to enable us to open up the new Ash Green Meadows Car Park at the end of South Lane in Ash. This car park provides parking for the newly opened Ash Green Meadows to the south.
Removing barbed wire and filling holes
The five Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership Rangers we’re joined by four students and trainees, whose kind help was very much appreciated. In all we removed over 7m3 of waste including barbed wire, a mattress, tyres and an old metal water tank, for which our baby tractor was very useful. Finally the large holes were filled creating a safe path out of the car park. At the end of the day we also mowed some paths and laid type 1 surfacing at some of the entrances onto the meadows, to reduce the muddiness of these pinch points.
Newly opened car park
Half of the rubbish we removed
If you’d like to pop along and find out more or get involved, then we’re hosting a volunteer task improving access on Thursday 8th November meeting at the car park at 10am.
- All tools and training are provided.
- Please bring suitable old clothes, waterproof, boots if you have them.
- We’ll bring hot drinks, cappuccinos and biscuits.
- Please don’t bring nuts
Senior Ranger Stuart
There’s a new opportunity for a part time Assistant Ranger to join our team at Blackwater Valley. If you’d like to find out more please have a nose at the job advert.
Senior Ranger Stuart
This morning, armed with sweep nets, bug pots and a fairy sheet, I led a family wildlife walk exploring Wellesley Woodlands. It was a lovely, crisp & sunny day discovering all the work our volunteers and rangers do to promote wildlife. The walk was well received…
“Thoroughly enjoyable morning spent with Stuart. Very informative, great for children and adults alike. Nice to learn about what’s on our doorstep! Big thank you”, Deborah.
“We had a wonderful woodland walk and learned a lot of fascinating facts about the area. Would highly recommend this walk for adults and children alike. Thank you!”, Zoe.
Animal Signs at Wellington Statue
Along the walk we paused to nose at some of the evidence of animals, including a squirrel drey and these animal skulls which I had found on an earlier walk. Do you know which two species they are from?
Senior Ranger Stuart
BVCP Volunteer Task Programme Nov 2018
Follow the link above to find out how our volunteers are helping your local area and how you can get involved.