Management Plan

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 © Sheep's fescue
 by Abi Stubbs

---- Maintaining and Improving Troopers Hill ----

2012 Management Plan

Troopers Hill is managed in accordance with a plan agreed between Bristol Parks and Friends of Troopers Hill. The plan is reviewed every five years.

The latest plan covering the period April 2012 to March 2017 is available via the link below. There were no major changes as a result of the 2012 review; the overall aims of the plan remain unchanged.

2012 Management Plan (8Mb) >>

Details of the 2007 Management Plan and some of the work carried out on the site from 2007 to 2012 can be seen via the link below:

2007 & Earlier Management Plans >>

Plan Aims & Objectives for Wildlife

The most important habitat on Troopers Hill is the acidic grassland and heathland, this covers the central area of the site and is the core of the reserve and the reason it was created.

Both acidic grassland and lowland heathland are UK priority habitats in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and together with other 'Species Rich Grasslands' their protection is also one of the aims of the Bristol Biodiversity Action Plan.

Both the 2012 and 2007 Management Plans were put together with advice from Bristol Parks Natural Environment Team and other naturalists in Bristol. In 2007 all agreed that the priority is for this core habitat to be protected and where possible to be restored to areas where the surrounding scrub and woodland had encroached over the previous twenty or more years (see our Old Photographs page).

To achieve this aim it was necessary to remove some of the trees and scrub that had grown in that time, this work was was managed by Bristol Parks and carried out in the winter to avoid the bird nesting season.

The work set out in the 2012 plan continues this principle, there are now few new areas of trees or scrub to clear, the priority is to prevent scrub from re-establishing in areas previously cleared.

Areas of scrub are being maintained around the outside of the site but these are being managed to prevent them becoming woodland. Between the scrub and the grassland and heathland on some parts of the site are areas of broom. Troopers Hill is the only site in Bristol where broom grows in such profusion.

As the hawthorn and bramble has been pushed back broom has re-established itself in some of these areas. However, the broom also needs to be controlled to avoid it spreading too much into the heathland. Some areas currently covered in broom will then be returned to grassland and heathland. This is a reversal of the natural progression that has occurred over the last 20 years where bramble has choked areas of broom and then hawthorn has grown amongst the bramble.

Implementing the Plan

BCC The day-to-day management of Troopers Hill is undertaken by Bristol City Council's 'Parks and Estates Service', often refered to as 'Bristol Parks'. Troopers Hill has a dedicated park keeper, Julian, and an important part of his duties is are to use his discretion in the level of maintenance carried out on the Hill to ensure that it maintains its natural feel and does not become overly formalised or manicured.

Julian is managed by the Area Team Leader (ATL) who in turn reports to the Area Park Manager (APM) for our part of the city. For some tasks, particularly winter maintenance, other members of the team work on Troopers Hill alongside Julian.

The Council's Nature Conservation Officer (NCO) has responsibility within the Council for providing ecological advice and promoting Troopers Hill as an important wildlife site in Bristol.

Friends of Troopers Hill assist in managing Troopers Hill for wildlife at our monthly Work Parties. The work we do is in accordance with the Management Plan and agreed with Julian before hand.

Generally we undertake tasks that are very labour intensive and can't be done with powered tools. For example whereas Julian might clear a large area of bramble in the winter we cut it in areas where is is growing amongst broom or heather. Several members of Friends of Troopers Hill have been trained by the Council so that we can lead work parties while being covered by the Council's insurance.

Friends of Troopers Hill also raise funds or provide volunteer time to enable other organisations to be brought in to assist with managing the site. An example is the work to manage the gorse by Community Payback described below. We are also keen to welcome groups from local offices who can work on Troopers Hill as part of team building exercises or would just like to give something back to the local community while having a great day out.

We were pleased to welcome volunteers from from the Biodiversity team at DEFRA in April 2012 who helped cut some saplings that were growing in the grassland and heathland. The team are shown in the photo above and a full report can be seen on our 'News & Views' forum.

Management of Gorse - March 2012

As part of our 'Stepping Forward' project (see below) offenders on the ‘Community Payback’ scheme have carried out some work to the woodland paths. We were also able to fund them to do some habitat management work on Troopers Hill.

Objective of the 2012 Management Plan says:

Prevent spread of gorse and begin cutting on a rotational plan to encourage regeneration, reduce the fire risk and prevent it becoming old and degenerate.

The Payback team have carried out work to remove part of the largest patch of gorse. Some gorse will be allowed to regenerate in this area before further areas are cleared in future years. Removing this gorse by hand is hard work, especially in the rain. In larger areas of heathland, such as in Peak District in Derbyshire it is controlled by fire, but this is not possible on Troopers Hill. This work certainly showed that Community Payback is not a soft option.

You can read more about the reasons for managing the gorse on our Forum here. The Photographic Survey that has been carried out since 1994 shows how the gorse has spread - see photo No 20 in particular.

Other Projects & Improvements

While Bristol City Council funds the regular maintenance through its revenue budget it has very limited funds available for improvements or capital funding. Friends of Troopers Hill have been very successful over the last few years in raising grants for work on Troopers Hill - details of some of the work done can be seen here. Our Funds page has details of all the grants we have been awarded.

Our current (2012) project is Troopers Hill Stepping Forward. Friends of Troopers Hill have been awarded over £30,000 of funding by Groundwork UK from the Big Lottery through their Community Spaces Programme.

The project is improving access to Troopers Hill and will encourage visits from groups such as 'Walking for Health'. The work is being carried out throughout 2012. The application was in accordance with objectives & 7 of the 2007 Management Plan.

The Vision for Troopers Hill

All of our projects and work on the Hill are in accordance with our vision for Troopers Hill which is shared by Bristol Parks and quoted in the management plan, it is:

To enhance the use of the site for recreation by the local community while protecting its natural beauty, rich bio-diversity, history and geology.

Friends of Troopers Hill
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