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Wednesday 2nd April 2014
The application by Terena Plowright of The Greening Campaign for a change of use of Johnston’s Coppice, the nature reserve behind Crookhorn Technology College, to ‘mixed use of woodland and natural pet cemetery’ was refused on 18th March 2014. The intention was for the pet cemetery to finance management of the woodland.
There were a number of objections and the application was refused because ‘In the absence of adequate information the Local Planning Authority is not satisfied that the proposal will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of protected species concerned at a favourable conservation status.’
The principal species of concern is the Hazel Dormouse although, according to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, eleven different species of bats have also been recorded in the area, including the very rare Bechstein’s bat.
An eight-year management plan has been prepared and the first section of hazel was coppiced early in 2013. The PAWARA Environment Group has assisted with clearance work. Woodland management activities ceased last year when volunteer work parties were cancelled due to a lack of numbers and Hampshire County Council withdrew the support of a Countryside Warden, who had been able to assist with a chainsaw, due to budget constraints. Terena still intends to manage the coppice and is waiting for the lease to be finalised.
Tuesday 1st April 2014
Hundreds of tadpoles (there could be thousands; I didn’t count them) are in the shallow edges of Penjar Pond and movement of the water can be seen from several yards away.
Spanish Bluebells Vanquished
Four volunteers spent a successful morning removing the remainder of the Spanish bluebells from Sandy Dell. After the eighteen bags filled last year there was a noticeable difference this time and we took out a further four bags full together with a small amount of litter. While we were there we also cut some of the brambles back from the path.
We left anything that could be English bluebells, so there is a possibility that some hybrids will need to come out at a later stage when the flowers will help with identification.
We are now ready to replant with English bluebells; if we can locate a source of free bulbs or funding to buy them that could be a job for this autumn.
We have just received confirmation that our application for funding under the ‘Approved by You’ grant scheme operated by Hampshire County Council and Havant Borough Council has been successful and we will receive the full amount applied for. This will enable us to purchase new tools, bird nesting boxes and bat boxes and to provide brush cutter training.
All applications were voted on by residents at a drop-in ‘market place’ event at The Borrow Centre in Cowplain. Each group needed to have a stand and be available to speak to members of the public before they cast their vote.
I would like to thank Dianne Lloyd, Wendy Gilbert and Paul Jackson for helping on the stand and everyone who voted for us.
Volunteers and Co-ordinator Needed to Keep the Group Going
The PAWARA Environment Group was created in September 2005.
In the last nine years the Group has:
• Cleared the old playground at Privett Road which had been used as a dump, seeded the area with grass and wild flowers and planted trees.
• Restored Penjar Pond which had become silted up and used as a dump and planted a hedge using mixed native species.
• Planted 2,000 daffodil bulbs alongside the A3 between Purbrook and Widley.
• Removed ivy and brambles from Marrelsmoor Coppice and planted 1,000 English bluebell bulbs.
• Removed Spanish bluebell bulbs from Sandy Dell so that they can be replaced with English bluebells.
• Looked after Woodsedge Pond since Woodsedge Waders ceased, including removing rubbish and pond weed, clearing the stream to improve the flow through the pond, removing overhanging branches and clearing paths.
The number of regular volunteers has reduced to three. We also need a new co-ordinator.
We have two projects remaining:
• On 14th December we will plant a fruiting hedge of wild plum trees supplied by The Tree Council. The trees will be planted at the back of the grass area at Sandy Brow and at the front of an island of trees on The Bog at Ladybridge Road. The hedge at The Bog will be supplemented with apple trees and fruit bushes. The ground will be prepared on Thursday 4th December with assistance from Groundwork who are managing the Hermitage Stream Project.
• On 11th January 2015 we will lay a row of ash trees in front of Woodsedge Pond as a hedge.
If no new volunteers come forward and no one offers to lead the Group it will then cease.
We meet for two hours each month. You do not need experience of conservation work to become a volunteer and there is no obligation to attend every task. A full handover will be given to any new Co-ordinator.
If you would like more information on volunteering or to know what is involved in co-ordinating the Group, please refer to the FAQs or use the Contact form.
Penjar Pond Work Party
Another productive Sunday morning at Penjar Pond. Gary couldn’t wait to start and filled a bin liner with litter before we got the scheduled work under way. We dug out some of the sedges from the centre of the pond to increase the area of open water and create some deeper pockets and cleared around and behind the hedge we planted last year.
As we did not need to clear the path alongside the pond we made a start on chopping back the grass growing over the kerb onto the pavement. This is a deceptively long stretch and we will need to finish the job next time.
Some branches had been cut off one of the mature oak trees and thrown over the fence at the back of the pond. We moved them to the verge so they could be removed easily by the Council and made a separate pile of logs for firewood. I don’t know if anyone made use of them, but they’re not there now.
There is a healthy frog population with inch long frogs hiding in the long grass.
A successful morning at Woodsedge. We achieved our main objective of cutting back the brambles in front of the pond and overhanging the path. The view from the bench was obscured by nettles and we took the opportunity to cut those down as well. We also raked two large piles of weed off the pond and removed a bag of cans and bottles. A sign on a metal post came out of the pond, but the concrete base will have to remain for now.
We were a bit down on numbers, four including our award winning litter-picker. Earlier in the week 160 notes advertising the work party were delivered to nearby houses and two residents met us at the pond. Although they were unable to join us today they expressed an interest in helping in the future. We also discovered something of the history of the pond. Apparently, a large number of terrapins were released there, probably when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze waned in the 1990s; we have not seen any signs of them so it is not known whether any survived.
Our other good deed for the day was sawing some branches off a fallen tree that was blocking the path in Johnston’s Coppice.
This morning we cleared around the trees we planted at Privett Road eighteen months ago and located 36 of the original 105. No sign of the Royal Oak which appears not to have survived although the squirrels have planted a few other oaks. An unwelcome addition was the horsetails which were not seen previously and now cover much of the grassy area.
Male Common Blue butterfly
The Environment Group was formed in 2005 and the original tools were purchased with a grant. Over the years some of the tools have worn out or broken and now need to be replaced. No tools have been purchased by PAWARA since 2005.
The tools we particularly need are:
- Digging Spades
- Digging Forks
- Tree Planting Spades
- Brushing Slasher
- Bill Hook
We also need all sizes of gardening gloves.
If you have any spare tools that you no longer need and would be willing to donate to PAWARA to help us to continue our work in the area or you would like more information, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact a committee member.
All donations would be gratefully received and put to good use.
Our most successful morning yet with nine bags of Spanish bluebells removed by four volunteers. Now that the majority of the invaders have been eradicated it is easier to see the English bluebells although some of those remaining appear to be hybrids.
A few additional helpers would have enabled us to take out some of the sycamore seedlings/saplings that have become prominent now they are in leaf. That work will probably have to wait until next year as we have no more work parties scheduled for Sandy Dell this year.
Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for conservation is not shared by all of the neighbours. As we entered from Privett Road a heap of fresh grass cuttings had been tipped over the hedge and our first job of the day was to remove sycamore branches thrown over a fence into the stream. We also saw a wheelie bin full of weeds being emptied onto the side of the road opposite.
A carrier bag of litter hanging on the dog waste bin suggested Gary had been out recently and he had clearly been thorough because no litter was visible either in Sandy Dell or the opposite side of Privett Road.
We spoke to a lady who was taking a bunch of Spanish bluebells from her garden to an elderly relative. After telling us what a good job we were doing looking after the area she told us that a month ago there were four ducklings on Penjar pond. Two Mallard drakes were feeding on the pond this afternoon. There was no sign of the duck or ducklings, but there was a multitude of well-fed and very active tadpoles.
Tuesday 8th April 2014
The native English bluebells we planted in Marrelsmoor Coppice in November are flowering.
If you would like to see a more established display it is worth walking through Johnston’s Coppice to the Woodsedge end.