**** Protecting the wildlife on Troopers Hill ****
In April 2017, byelaws came into force in parks and green spaces across Bristol. Troopers Hill Loal Nature Reserve is one of only two areas where barbecues of any type are not permitted - so why was Troopers Hill singled out?
Troopers Hill is a great spot to sit and enjoy views of Bristol and in the summer many people would like to enjoy a barbecue at the same time. Unfortunately due to damage to wildlife & fire risk, barbeques are not permitted.
The grass on Troopers Hill is never cut; this helps make it a unique and special site for wildlife, it is home to bees (84 species have been recorded) and many other invertebrates. It also means that as the long grass dries in the summer there is an increased fire risk. In other parks & green spaces barbecues leave unsightly burnt squares, but on Troopers Hill they can lead to fires such as the one from 2013 shown here.
During dry weather please take extra care to protect Troopers Hill, as well as not using barbecues, please dispose of cigarette butts safely; do not leave glass bottles; do not use Chinese lanterns.
Fires can flare up sometime after the barbecue has finished as the dry grass and roots can smoulder unnoticably at first.
There were two large fires on the Hill in July 2013. The fires spread from the grassland into the adjacent broom and other scrub. Avon Fire and Rescue did a great job, but we don't want to have to call them again!
While we can't be sure that either of these were caused by barbecues, remains of a disposalble barbecue were found in the burnt area.
While they are not allowed on the Hill; barbecues can be used on the adjacent Troopers Hill Field but must be on legs, so the grass isn't burnt. They are not permitted in the play area.
If you see someone using a barbecue please report it to Bristol Parks.
If you feel happy doing so, then have a conversation about why they shouldn't be doing it. Most people just haven't thought about the risks and will move if the barbecue isn't too hot.
Reporting any barbecue use will help us and Bristol Parks build up a picture of the extent of the problem and strengthen the case for more funds to be allocated to address it.
The ecological advice given after the 2013 fire was to remove the burnt shrubs that were left to prevent soil enrichment and remove supports for new bramble growth. Poor soil is what provides the special habitats for wildlife that we have now on Troopers Hill. A change to the soil conditions would lead to the loss of the wildlife and plants that make this site unique in the Bristol area.
A huge thank you to Community Payback. On 9th November 2013, working hard in cold, drizzly conditions, a team carrying out their community service, cut back most of the fire damage caused by the July fire. Many thanks also to Bristol Parks who took the massive heap of brurnt scrub away.
Other Fires on Troopers Hill
There have been a number of fires on Troopers Hill, most with unknown origins, all have had some impact on the wildlife on the site.
The fire service were called to a report of a fire from a barbecue in 2019.
A goat willow that we pruned in September 2017 had a fire lit at its base, leading to most of its branches having to be removed.
The remains of a burnt wheelie bin were found at our work party in April 2011.
A posting from our now closed forum, describes some fires in 2010, more work was done in one of the affected areas at our work party in November 2011
One of the most dramatic recent fires was in the gorse in March 2007.
By far the largest fire of recent times was in the hot summer of 1995, which we believe (from a newspaper cutting) to have been on 17th August; this spread across most of the hill and had an impact on the habitat over the following few years. Some of the imapacts can be seen in our regular Photo Survey which shows the change from 1994 to 1996.