Wednesday 29 April 2015

"Earth calling Hartshill..."

Hartshill Park really needs to boost (or boot) its communications manager. Friends of Hartshill Park Events and Meetings Web page... stuck in 2014. Main top car park noticeboard box... empty. Facebook group... seems to lack an Admin to admit new members or to post events details.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Restoring small urban 'pocket' woodland

I've been watching a few documentaries and reading a few articles and PDFs on restoring and managing urban 'pocket' woodland, especially that which is fairly young (50 years or so, maybe effectively abandoned in the 1960s). It might be on a fairly small patch of former industrial brownfield land, with a limited number of mature trees. Perhaps partly on a slope, even, and/or alongside a railway or old factory, which may have prevented development. The basics ten steps can be summed up as follows:

1. Pick up all the litter in the late winter / early spring. Every scrap of it. Then pick it up weekly or monthly, if you have an ongoing litter problem.

2. Put in a half-dozen bird boxes, fixed to the north-east side of the trunk, at just above six foot height. Higher, if yobs are likely to tear them down.

3. Add large chunks of nicely rotting wood from other sites, if not present. Place these in parts sheltered from the wind, if possible. Also consider transplanting sections of earth containing woodland fungi mycelium — half the wood is actually beneath your feet.

4. In November plant early spring native flowers for ground-cover, as bulbs and self-seeding seed. Plant the bulbs deeper than you might in a garden border, at three times the depth of the bulb length.

5. In a dark wood strategically clear bracken and bramble tangles, and lightly prune off the fingers of overhead branches, to create the first open sunny glades within the wood. But keep in mind that direct midday summer sun will blast and wither tender woodland plants - so "dappled light" should be the aim in your selective pruning. Consider adding a small water source in a glade, such as a large old sink or half-butt, half buried.

6. Raise the woodland 'canopy' from the floor by removing selected lower branches and suckers from all the larger trees and bushes. This lets more light reach the ground.

7. Contrary to popular opinion ivy is good for trees and wildlife, very good. Keep it, and encourage its progress, within limits in terms of it swamping the ground.

8. Discourage or prevent all dog walkers — research shows that the mere occasional presence of dogs in a nature reserve scares away a third of all the birds. Not to mention the health problems arising from dog shit, or the bizarre and disgusting practice of hanging little bags of dog shit from bushes and fences.

9. In an urban environment, take measures to discourage teenage yobs, scrambler motorbikes, outdoor sex enthusiasts ('doggers'), illegal fishermen, etc. Don't add any type of seating, for instance, or it will act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour. Clean up the 'territory marker' type of litter and graffiti immediately. In a larger wood add heavy tree-boles or ditches to discourage motorcycle 'scrambler' paths from forming.

10. Define a main path, but naturally close off others by encouraging their overgrowth and thus 'natural closure'.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Not 'the litter election'

I've just gone through all the UK political party manifestos in PDF, looking for keywords: litter / flytipping / fly-tipping / or rubbish. Obviously it's not seen as much of a national issue, despite litter and dog mess being a hot doorstep issue, and despite a major Parliamentary cross-party committee report in March. At least the Conservatives manage to have a lone new election promise on the issue...

* Conservative Party: "Building on our introduction of a five pence charge on single-use plastic bags, we will review the case for higher Fixed Penalty Notices for littering and allow councils to tackle small-scale fly-tipping through Fixed Penalties rather than costly prosecutions".

* UKIP: No mentions.

* Liberal Democrats: No mentions.

* Green Party: No mentions.

* Labour Party: No mentions.

Saturday 4 April 2015

Buzzing and flying

Everything buzzing and flying today, apart from some ducks dozing in the grass by the side of the canal. Bumble bees bumbling out, a few gnats already flying, even a Red Admiral butterfly perched on a littered Ribena carton in the sun. The big hawks are back again, on Hartshill Park. Saw a big one slowly circling over the rail yards on the west side of Lock 38, presumably to see if the bunnies were out and about yet. Good to see that the post-industrial ecosystem is getting strong enough to support top-level predators year after year.

[Update: Hawks confirmed. I saw both of them riding the thermals above the Park, the next day]

"Litter Pickers" documentary from 2009

Positive little 10 minute radio documentary from Ireland, "Litter Pickers" (2009). (.mp3 link)

"One day, reporter Ronan Kelly came across a priest with a bike walking along beside a busy road in Dublin picking up litter. They spoke and Ronan thought little more of it until he came across a woman picking up litter on a football pitch... and then a man walking a dog picking up litter in a park... and another man with a bike picking up litter behind a supermarket. Soon Ronan had picked up enough litter pickers to make a report..."