PCNR Area Contacts
To be updated
HEART OF THE LEVELS
David German, a retired electrical engineer, is one of a syndicate of 11 people who, about five years ago, together put up enough money to buy four acres of former farmland.
Their aim was to preserve the field as a wildflower meadow. Four years ago a survey was carried out by well-qualified botanist John Marshall and on the basis of his findings, SERC arranged for the land to be registered as a County Wildlife Site.
Once a year, during late August/ September, the hay is cut by a local farmer. Recently one of the syndicate planted wildflower plugs but they were unsuccessful, possibly eaten by rabbits. We have tried again this winter planting around 70 Cowslips as plugs and most of them seem to be still in the ground.
Three years ago paid for by a grant - 200 yards of native hedging was planted by the Syndicate members with seven different native species and is growing well. Ragwort and creeping thistles are pulled by hand. A wide range of wild flowers are present in the field. Yellow Rattle has been introduced and has flourished, controlling the grasses very well. Pyramidal and Bee Orchid are counted each year. Visitors are welcome
ILMINSTER / CHARD
Valerie and John Godsmark bought 48 acres of ancient woodland in the county in 1999 but didn’t start any management until 2001.
At least three days a week (weather permitting) finds them working and enjoying their time in Park Wood, Chaffcombe near Chard.
Starting as enthusiastic amateurs, their knowledge has increased as they undertook their own management plan & grant applications. Detailed records are kept. Rhododendron ponticum/ Laurel clearance, tree planting, provision of firewood & timber for their own use all take time. The restored pond is an interesting and attractive distraction. Butterflies have been recorded on transect since 2011. Some problems with “Run-off” from neighbouring land led to some involvement with the “Hills to the Levels project and the construction of 6 leaky debris dams. Management plans are now to be revised according to Countryside Stewardship regulations and UK Forestry standards still within the “Keepers of Time” guidelines.
Every spring they host Bluebell walks, a time when visitors can either simply enjoy the beauty of Park Wood or they can benefit from the Godsmarks’ experienced advice on Woodland management primarily for conservation & habitat improvement.
They are also involved in 2 Community projects and are “Volunteer” Wardens for Bishopswood Meadows.
SOUTH EAST SOMERSET
Barbara and Derek Simmons own three fields of former pasture land and some woodland ( ten and a half acres) bordering the River Cale. One field contains some mature oaks.
When they bought the land in three lots in 2003, 2005, and 2010 two fields had been over-grazed by horses and suffered from barren patches and overgrown blackthorn brambles and nettles.
Hard work clearing the grassland and laying and planting hedges has led to a dramatic increase in wildlife and flowers and a wide range of fungi has been identified including wax caps and uncommon fungi such as Gyrophorus cyanescens and Choiromyces meandriformis, a species of truffle. More recently over twelve hundred native trees and woody shrubs have been planted. A range of types of woodpiles, wild flower banks and ponds have been developed.
The annual hay cut is carried out late. Some of the pasture has been grazed later by sheep or a pony, although this is often limited by soft ground.
After a career in biomedical sciences, mostly spent on research in veterinary and medical laboratories, Derek was delighted to undertake this project. Barbara worked as a pharmacist in hospital and retail pharmacies. They are delighted with their environmental project which aims to increase the biodiversity on their land.
MENDIP HILLS, EAST MENDIP AND WELLS
Sue Rushforth has recently offered to be an Area contact although still in employment and new to the Network. She and partner Andy Butterfield acquired a 7 acre field near West Compton at the start of 2016. This sloping, south-facing site alongside the Strawberry Line was overgrown sheep pasture with mature hedgerows, a copse, 3 mature trees and featuring a Victorian pond fed by a spring.
Sue and Andy aim to conserve and improve the environment for wildlife while sharing and enjoying the space with family and friends and continuing some small-scale farming activities. At the same time they are exploring a “change of use” planning permission to allow small scale, off-grid camping so that other wildlife enthusiasts can observe and enjoy the habitat.
The couple have set about clearing brambles in some areas but have left other patches to benefit birds and butterflies. New hedging has been planted. Sheep graze for 6 weeks early in the year to be followed by late summer haycut. Ground flora has been surveyed and will be monitored by them. They have started to record mammals, birds including Barn Owl and pair of kestrels, butterflies and moths.
To be updated
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