Work Party for DEFRA volunteers
16 April 2012
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A huge thank you to seven employees of DEFRA's Biodiversity Programme who joined us today for a volunteer work party to help protect Troopers Hill's special acid heath and grassland.
In the morning Kit took one group off up the steps from Entrance E looking for and removing all the saplings and bramble encroaching onto the acid heath and grassland. At the top of the steps they turned right and continued removing saplings, cutting bramble where it was necessary to reach the saplings.
I took the second group and went to the slopes above the nursery to remove cherry, holm oak. hazel and hawthorn saplings that are overshadowing and killing the heather and grasses.
All work done on Troopers Hill follows the management plan www.troopers-hill.org.uk/plan/TroopersHillMPv3.pdf and these tasks met objectives
18.104.22.168 Eradicate holm oak, Quercus ilex, turkey oak, Quercus cerris and Buddleia.
22.214.171.124 Removal of all tree species growing in scrub areas before maturity
126.96.36.199 Remove all tree seedlings from grassland, and heathland.
188.8.131.52 Control bramble and scrub encroaching onto grassland and heathland.
These objectives all form part of aim 6.2.2 which is:
To conserve and where possible enhance the extent and quality of acidic grassland and heath habitats, including its associated bare earth for the benefit of species diversity.
My group cleared some bramble from an area of grassland close to a path that leads to the slopes above the Nursery,they also removed some bramble and branches that were obstructing the path. Duncan cleared some earth steps to make it easier for work parties to access the area. We then cut more bramble to reach the part of the slope where we wanted to work and made good progress clearing saplings. Looking back at our work party reports we have not worked on this slope since April 2008 and the impact on the heather from overshadowing sapling growth was very obvious.
In this photo of Craig and Duncan tackling holm oak you can clearly see how the edge of heather has been pushed back by the overshadowing trees.
More clearing round heather here.
Here Craig and Duncan are cutting back the hawthorn that is invading the area of heather.
Natasha was also removing encroaching hawthorn.
Just before breaking for lunch we took a Nursery slopes group photo.
We met up with the other group who had filled most of a yellow 5-ton sack with cuttings.
After lunch Rob gave a brief history tour of the Hill.
We were joined by David who was leading a team for the afternoon and paused for a group photo before going downhill to start on the afternoon's work.
David took "my" team plus new arrival, Martin (fresh from the dentist's clutches), and carried on the good work along the path, turning into the gulley and removing all visible holm oak. They filled another sack with all their cuttings.
I took "Kit's" team to the Nursery slopes where we worked so hard I forgot take any photos until the end.
If you compare backgrounds against the photos of the morning team you will have an idea of how much work was done. The difference that the two teams have made means much more light can now reach a much greater area and I am very hopeful that the grassland and heathland edges will make a recovery. With the work that was done access to this area is much easier so our regular work parties will be able to revisit and start work straightaway to extend the good work even further.
Kit took a couple of photos of the work "his" group were doing and I hope to add those tomorrow. In the mean time many thanks to
Susan 16 April 2012
Kit and Gauri have sent me some more photos of yesterday's activities.
Here are Kit's team working hard cutting out bramble and saplings from the grassland above entrance E.
Gauri climbed the slopes to reach the saplings among the heather.
Even the lunchtime history walk involved climbing the Hill. At least this was after our Big Lottery grant www.troopers-hill.org.uk/steppingforward work had been carried out on the steps. I think the team would have been far less willing to start work in the afternoon if they had tackled the old version of the steps.
Team photo by the chimney.
And finally, Jean extracting one of the many branches she cut in the afternoon.
Susan 17 April 2012