COLEORTON & NEW LOUNT VOLUNTEER GROUP.
It is about a year since the last update (November 2015) so there is much to tell:-
The provisional dates for work session in JANURAY – MARCH 2017 are as follows:-
Tuesday 3rd January – New Lount Reserve - Ranger Day
Saturday 7th January – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Tuesday 17th January – Coleorton Wood - Non Ranger Day
Saturday 21stJanuary – Coleorton Wood – Non Ranger Day
Tuesday 31st January – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Saturday 4th February – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Tuesday 14th February – Coleorton Wood – Non Ranger Day
Saturday 18th February – Coleorton Wood – Non Ranger Day
Tuesday 28th February - New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Saturday 4th March – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Tuesday 14th March – Coleorton Wood – Non Ranger Day
Saturday 18th March – Coleorton Wood – Non Ranger Day
Tuesday 28th March – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
Saturday 1st April – New Lount Reserve – Ranger Day
We have now moved into the winter – autumn period and are now working on habitat management at both sites. The weather throughout the previous year has not been kind to the group in that we have lost more work session to very wet weather than we have in previous years. The group has made substantial progress since last November, with both habitat management and site maintenance. The autumn/winter period promises to be a very busy period as we now have more work to catch up on than we had last year. We are making good progress with the Sand Martin Wall in the Wednesday workshops; the proposed workshop dates for January to March 2017 are:-
Wednesday 4th January
Wednesday 18th January
Wednesday 1st February
Wednesday 15th February
Wednesday 1st March
Wednesday 15th March
Wednesday 29th March
These sessions will be held at the Ranger’s Workshop at Snibston Discovery Park; they usually start at 9.30a.m. and finish around lunchtime (1.30p.m.)
1. Management Committee
Chairman: John Macdonald
Treasurer: Jane Elson
Secretary: Brian Bartram
Operations: Mick Specht
Social and Fundraising: Vera Macdonald
2. Social & Fund Raising
This is an important aspect of the group and requires more than one committee member; are there any volunteers that would help on this committee?
3. Woodland Management will be organised by:-
John Macdonald, Brian Bartram, Mick Specht and LCC Rangers.
Progress at Coleorton Wood.
We are generally able to comply with the management plan for Coleorton Wood, although we will have to manage the site hedgerows over a longer period than the plan allows. We have been able to lay a substantial length of old hedge on the southern perimeter of the site. We had a small number of gaps and we have been able to plant a few saplings to fill these. We will continue to lay the remainder of this hedge once we have completed the shrub coppicing and clearing required by the management plan.
We completed all of the shrub coppicing and clearing required for the management plan and this work was made easier with the use of chainsaws. We have started on this year’s area to be cleared and are making good progress.
The ride sides need to be strimmed and raked off once a year and we have achieved this by strimming some of the ride sides in the autumn and the remaining ones in the spring; this allows some ride sides to over-winter. There have been some issues with the mowing over the summer and we have had to strim some areas to ensure access around the site.
We have continued to strim the lower part of the picnic area and this is now suitable for mowing, although we will continue to monitor it and strim if necessary. We have planted a large number of snowdrop bulbs in the picnic area and look forward to seeing them flowering in February/March next year. We still need to fill one or two of the areas under the picnic tables with wood chippings and we will try and achieve this before next summer.
We have had a small number of fallen trees over the year and these have not fallen in a hazardous area. We have tidied these up and stacked the timber, which we ideally need to find a use for. During the summer period we have frequently surveyed the site and cut back any overhanging branches to ensure good access and remove any unsafe branches.
We have monitored the pond throughout the year and have made significant changes to both the inflow and outflow of water. In August this year we installed a new outflow sump to raise the level of the pond. We have ensured that the channel running across the site has been kept clear to maintain a good flow into the pond. We still experienced very low levels of water in the summer and will see if the new sump helps to maintain more water for next summer.
We have removed more of the rabbit fencing from some areas around the site and there is now very little left that will be removed. We have also removed the rabbit fencing around the car park and repaired the broken fences in the car park. This makes it easier to keep the perimeter of the car park tidy. We have repaired the picnic tables in the car park to ensure they are safe to use. The hedge at the bottom of Pitt Lane has also been trimmed and we have trimmed the hedges around the perimeter of the car park to tidy up the entrance area to the wood.
Progress at New Lount Reserve.
Despite not being able to keep pace with the management plan we have made a lot of progress at New Lount and we receive a lot of complementary comments on how much better the site is. We have thinned a very large area of woodland and created a fairly large number of windrows. We have a large quantity of cut timber stacked in the cleared areas which we have not been able to utilise. We have now restarted thinning woodland again and will progress as far as we can in the time available. In one area of the wood we have cleared a larger number of trees creating a view over the Leicestershire countryside. We also moved a near-by bench so that visitors can take advantage of this view.
We have completed a lot of strimming across the site. Where necessary we have strimmed the ride sides, although we still have a few of these to complete. We have strimmed the open glades and for this year we still have one to complete. The open species rich area has also been strimmed although this year the rangers used the tractor mower for the first time and this gave a very good result, as well as speeding up the work. We have also strimmed beside the two boardwalks and both sets of steps to tidy them all up. The two picnic areas have also been strimmed more than once to make them more attractive to visitors.
This year saw the installation of the “Woody” Bench located just above, and overlooking, one of the two lower ponds. Terry Green’s family attended this installation and were very pleased with what both the rangers and the volunteers had achieved in memory of their father.
Repairs to the pier on the top pond were completed and the small boardwalk was finally finished. We have since found that in wet weather the boardwalk can be quite slippery so we will need to add some wire meshing to improve the traction in wet conditions. We also need to consider adding wire mesh to the larger boardwalk for the same reasons.
Ragwort this year has been much less of a problem and we were able to pull all the re-growth in just one session. This demonstrates that the hard work carried out in previous years has significantly reduced this controlled plant to a much more manageable level.
We have cleared some of the paths of both mud and leaves, but this is an ongoing problem as there are several areas which are very muddy during wet weather. We have created a new pathway around the back of the pit bank in line with the circular walk which is shown on the new site interpretation board. This is a good example of an area that we will now need to keep clear to encourage visitors to use the path. We are planning to make and install direction posts so that visitors can follow the route of this circular walk.
We have also spent time during the summer period repairing a number of fences that had been broken for some time. This will be an ongoing task taking into consideration the age of the fences.
In September 2016 we had a work session with staff from the AACME School of Loughborough University to clear two areas which will feature as part of Newbold Heritage Group’s Industrial Heritage Trail for the New Lount site. This was a very successful day when the baths & canteen area as well as the weighbridge area were cleared, although we still have waste to burn off in the weighbridge area.
4. Workshop Session.
The workshop sessions have been well attended and very productive. We finally completed the large octagonal picnic table which was then installed at Bosworth Country Park. We have also assisted the rangers to complete the “Woody” bench which was installed at New Lount. The group has manufactured a large number of wooden mushrooms which have been much in demand and we still have outstanding orders.
The group also manufactured a range of planters out of recycled material together with some “Tea Lights” which were sold at the two plant sales. The new sump for the pond at Coleorton Wood was manufactured in the workshops and preparation of timber for the pier and boardwalk at New Lount was also prepared in the workshop sessions.
Over the last few months the workshops have been focused on making a large Sand Martin Wall which will be installed next to the top pond at New Lount. This project has been funded by the National Forest and it is hoped will be completed before February 2017 in time for the sand martin nesting season. The group will then be manufacturing sign posts for both the circular walk and the heritage trail at New Lount.
5. Social and Fund Raising Programme.
The two main fundraising events were the Folk Night in November 2015 where we raised just over £800 and everyone had a really enjoyable evening. We then had two plant sales in May 2016 that have raised over £1,000 and attracted visitors to both the sites. These events are important to the group not just for raising essential funds, but also involving the group with the local community.
A few members of the group also visited the Carillon in Loughborough; this was a joint visit with members of Newbold Heritage group and was enjoyed by those who attended.
The group also had a stand at LCC’s Countryside Show in August where we encouraged children to assist us in building an insect hotel. This was very successful and very useful in publicising the group; we will be taking part next year.
In October 2015 LRWT organised a special mushroom walk for the group and those that attended this said it was very informative.
We also entered the group for the National Forest’s 25 Year awards in the Community Groups section. Whilst we did not win this award the judges complimented the group on the large amount of work achieved and the overall enthusiasm of the group.
The group has also been awarded a grant by NWLDC and Coleorton Parish Council for two members to be trained in the use of pesticides. This will help the group to better control plants which we are cutting down and do not want to re-grow. The courses will be held in the New Year.
We have had a few new members since the last update but overall attendances have been down on the previous year. Ideally we need to have increasing numbers of volunteering hours as we are creating additional work with the various projects that we carry out. Volunteering has become very competitive and we will have to manage the best way we can. If you are able to commit more time to work sessions it will help us to make further improvements across the two sites.
If you are interested in helping in any way do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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