18 June 2013

Countryside projects boosted by volunteers

From hedge laying to restoring dew ponds, rangers from Brighton & Hove City Council’s countryside team have been busy working with local groups to preserve and enhance the city’s open spaces.

Partnership working has been at the heart of much of the work carried out over the last year and volunteers have played a key role in many of the projects.

New sheep grazing projects introduced last year include 19 Acres (a joint project between the council and South Downs National Park), Tenantry Down and the Home Farm Road section of Wild Park.

This means sheep now graze on nearly 100 hectares of land in the city including Green Ridge, Whitehawk, Stanmer Park, Bevendean and Benfield Valley.

Throughout the year, more than 100 volunteer shepherds are out and about keeping an eye on the sheep and checking fencing, supervised by the council’s rangers.

Woodland conservation has also increased over the last year with new groups being set up at Craven Wood and Coldean Woods.

Members of the Craven Wood group have been involved in replacing steps and helping create a woodland workout gym. They have also organised community activities including a walk and dawn chorus event.

The Coldean Woods Community Woodland project runs monthly woodland workdays providing an opportunity for residents to get involved with practical woodland management projects.

Rangers have also been working with Surrey and Sussex Probation Service Community Payback team and projects have included a new scheme to produce kindling and firewood for sale at Stanmer Nursery. Funds raised will go towards buying tools and running tree planting projects.

They have also worked with the Sussex Wildlife Trust to renovate the dew pond at Sheepcote Valley. The pond was completely re-dug, lined and filled and wildflowers were planted around the pond edge.

Last year also saw the completion of the Wilson Avenue hedge laying project. Since the project started in 2010, almost 700 metres of hedge have been laid as the Rangers worked with groups including the Friends of Sheepcote Valley, Portslade Green Gym, Brighton Conservation Volunteers and Cityparks volunteers. A hedge has also been laid at Moulsecoomb Primary School.

Patrolling city parks is also an important part of the rangers work and each 450 visits are made to around 100 green spaces dealing with issues including dog fouling, fly tipping and off road motorcycles.

Guided walks have included bat spotting at Preston Park and St Ann’s Well Gardens and a fungal foray at Coldean and Stanmer Woods.