Friends of Sharphill Wood: 10th Anniversary Event
On 22 January 2018 the Group had been in existence for 10 years and to mark this milestone a special event was held on 12 May at St Paul’s Church Hall. 25 people attended, including the Deputy Mayor of Rushcliffe Borough Council, Councillor Maureen Stockwood and Councillors Debbie Mason, Francis Purdue-Horan and Karrar Khan. Other specially invited guests attending were Valerie Holt of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, PC Dave Blundell and Dr Chris Terrell-Nield.
Apologies had been received from the Mayor, Barrie Cooper, Councillors Rod Jones, Richard Mallender, Sue Mallender, Liz Plant and Gordon Wheeler. Gary Cragg and Lynn Victor from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust also gave their apologies as did Kathryn Nicholson from Grosvenor House Day Nursery.
Phil Miller, Group Chair, welcomed all to the event by saying, when the Group was set up, we didn’t envisage the additional challenges posed by the building developments. He paid tribute to all the volunteers who had given many hours of their time and to the financial support from councillors, B&Q and Collins Cash and Carry. We have made mistakes, laying woodchip being amongst them, but we have begun to rectify that demarking the paths and we have planted many trees to restore the interior and strengthen the boundary. He also thanked those who had conducted nature surveys, particularly Gordon Dyne. Working with Rushcliffe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust we will continue to work to our Management Plan and he handed over to Chrissie Wells to highlight the challenges we face. Chrissie said our overall aim is to enhance the wood as a Local Nature Reserve for the benefit of the local community. While many people are on the email list we rely on far fewer to turn up for actual work – maybe 15-20 regulars in total. A high priority is involving as many local people as possible and educating them, especially young people and children. Through our website, which Guy Roberts set up and Jo Miller maintains, and facebook, we try to reach as many people as possible. We involve local schools and have used their pupils for Duke of Edinburgh Award work and our honorary “Friends” from the local Forest schools carry out vital conservation education. The scouts and guides have spent many hours helping plant whips, collect litter and spread woodchip. We also do talks to the Local Area Forum, Rushcliffe 50+ Forum and U3A and also have stalls at local events. There’s a conflict between people wanting to use the Wood for leisure and preserving it for wildlife. Party people light fires, leave litter including broken glass. Mountain bike trails compact the soil and destroy understorey, walkers and children playing want to leave the Rights of Way and make extra paths which destroy habitat. Somehow we have to encourage people to keep to paths whilst keeping it natural. Chrissie thanked Streetwise, the police and fire service and welcomed the creation of the wood as an area covered by a Public Space Protection Order.
We await the promised Welcome Pack from the developers and we look to ensure they implement the necessary mitigating measures. Despite these challenges the effort has been worthwhile as demonstrated by the awards the Group and individual volunteers have received.
Phil introduced Ben Driver from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust who outlined what the Trust does as a whole for the county and thanked his predecessor Conservation Officers Gaynor Jones Jenkins, Andy Lowe and Gary Cragg who have worked with Rushcliffe on Sharphill and other nature reserves. As well as contributing to the management plan, on which annual meetings are held, the Trust also advises on planting and other conservation issues as well as commenting on the building development plans.
Phil then introduced Paul Phillips, Environmental Sustainability Officer for Rushcliffe Borough Council. Paul pointed out that Sharphill is a manmade wood too small to self-regenerate so a management plan is vital. The management plan, the third of which will run from 2018 – 2023, provides realistic, practical actions to meet achievable management goals enabling management progression. While not particularly natural, Sharphill is one of the few woodlands locally and is isolated from other woodlands. However, it is valuable for informal recreation and education and provides a countryside experience on the doorstep of a major urban area. The objectives of the plan are:
- to maintain and enhance the habitat types and species present
- combine habitat enhancement and management with education, recreation and access provision
- encourage public understanding and awareness of issues relating to the site, including the archaeological and historical elements on the site
- monitor effects of management and visitor use on the wildlife on the site
- promote a viable Friends of Sharphill Wood group.
Paul said the objectives of defining footpaths, installing gates, installing bird boxes and encouraging management and surveying by the Friends have been achieved but ongoing maintenance and monitoring is required particularly in light of new housing development.
Phil asked for questions and Bill Logan said that the original mitigating measures saw the community park run from the east to the Spinney, but now was curtailed at both east and west. The east was curtailed because of the increased housing, but there seemed no logic in stopping the park in line with the wood and he asked if the original proposal for the west could be retained. Councilor Mason said she was aware of the issue and hoped that something could be negotiated.
Finally, Phil asked Councillor Stockwood if she would draw the raffle, the proceeds of which would go to the Mayor’s chosen charity, the Friary. The first prize had been donated by Notcutts and the raffle raised £58.
Following the meeting, a number of Friends visited the wood led by John.