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 Johnston’s Coppice

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.







Tree Maintenance at Privett Road

We had an encouraging turnout of eleven volunteers for the work party at Privett Road yesterday, including two new recruits.  Apart from digging out two tree stumps, it was an easy task and we completed the job with time to spare.

Tree Planting & Hedge Maintenance – Sunday 12th March

We had a very productive morning at The Bog and Penjar Pond with a good turnout of residents supplemented with scouts from the 72nd Portsmouth Group.  We added to the fruiting hedge at The Bog with apple, quince and elder while the scouts staked the existing trees.  We then moved over to Penjar Pond where the scouts sawed up and moved some branches that had been cut down and left at the back of the pond.  Meanwhile, the rest of us planted a double row of wild plum trees at the Elstead Gardens end of the grass area.  Our original intention was to continue the hedge planted for year-round colour.  Unfortunately, the ground was too stony.  There was a suggestion it might be builders’ rubble.

Purbrook & Widley Spring Clean – 5th March 2017

Well done and thank you to everyone who turned out for the Purbrook and Widley Spring Clean.

The start was delayed by an hour due to early morning rain.  That said, the weather was not as torrential as it might have been although there was a violent hailstorm at lunchtime, after everyone had gone home.

The street cleaners were highly efficient and it was not possible to take a photo of all the bags collected because they were taken away before the spring clean was finished.

The total was 39 bags of rubbish plus a discarded dining room chair and a wheel rim complete with tyre.  On Friday a bag was filled with fast-food boxes and wrappers from around the tennis courts at Purbrook Heath.  So the total for the weekend was 40 bags plus the extras.

Trees at Privett Road

We had a very successful morning staking the trees we planted four years ago at Privett Road.  The trees did not need support, but we staked them to enable us to locate them easily.  We found 41 of the 105 trees we originally planted although there may be a few more hidden under brambles.  The trees were planted as 6” – 8” bare-rooted whips, which explains the survival rate and why some are still quite small.  We took the opportunity to clear around the trees to reduce competition from grass.


We cut out the well-established goat willow and managed to dig out three of the roots.  The remainder will have to wait for a follow-up visit.


We also started to cut back some of the brambles that had encroached on the flat area where we planted the trees.


Big Litter Pick – Johnston’s Coppice – November 2016

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the Big Litter Pick on Sunday 13th November.  We collected a total of 53 bags plus four hub caps (unfortunately not a set) a brake disk, part of a car exhaust system, a child’s seat and nine traffic cones, five of which will be reused by Hampshire County Council Countryside Service.  Altogether we have collected 196 bags of litter from Johnston’s Coppice and the surrounding area, not counting all the other rubbish. Our total is now 242 bags for this year.

Big Litter Pick Johnston's Coppice 13.11.2016

Our haul from the Big Litter Pick in Johnston’s Coppice 13.11.2016

Fruiting Hedge Maintenance – The Bog

In December 2014 we planted a fruiting hedge around an island of established trees on The Bog (Ladybridge Road) with plants supplied by The Tree Council.  The Bog is aptly named and we were unable to have any woodchips delivered at the time of planting to suppress weeds because the truck wheels would have sunk into the soft ground.  We had not had an opportunity to work on the hedge since it was planted and it had become overgrown although some trees could be seen and they appeared to be thriving.

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We have had two work parties in July and September to carefully remove undergrowth by hand so that we could locate the trees and avoid damage to them.  We then dug out the more persistent of the weeds and laid a thick mulch of wood chips to slow down re-growth.

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During the July session we uncovered a cherry tree and an apple tree, both with a small amount of fruit forming.  By September the cherries had disappeared, probably taken by birds, and the apples had enlarged although they were not yet ripe.   Apart from an unexplained gap in the second row all the trees had survived.

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Although the hedge will need periodic maintenance to continue to remove perennial weeds it is well on the way to becoming an attractive and productive feature.

Penjar Pond – August 2016

We took advantage of a dry pond to remove debris, mainly branches that had been cut from nearby trees.

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The native species hedge we planted from whips in February 2013 was thriving and we cut the top level with the nearby fence to allow it to bush up.  We also cut the sides to control a dog rose which was taking over the grass area and allow access to the fence for maintenance and removed the spiral tree guards.

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The verge was trimmed to reveal the kerb.

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There was no litter in the area around the pond although three bags full were collected in the car park next to the shops.


Litter Picking at Johnston’s Coppice

We had seven volunteers, including three new recruits, at Johnston’s Coppice this morning for the third litter pick.  We collected thirty bags of litter between us  making 143 bags in total plus an assortment of other rubbish.  We are now close to the end of the initial deep clean of litter that had accumulated over many years and we hope to finish the job in the autumn / winter.  We have had some signs made to state that the area has been cleared by PAWARA and asking people to take their litter home.  As they appear to be having some effect on Purbrook Heath Road we have placed two signs alongside Purbrook Way which runs past Johnston’s Coppice.  We have also received confirmation that a large litter bin will be placed near the bus stop and emptied daily.

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Clearing Brambles at Privett Road

Six volunteers cleared brambles at Privett Road in Purbrook last month.  We made good progress although we will probably need at least another two work parties in the autumn / winter to finish the task.  We have bought another four pairs of shears to help speed the job up.  We cleared a small amount of garden rubbish which had been dumped at the top of the slope and there was no sign of fresh dumping this week.

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Privett Road 2 100416



Clean for The Queen

Twelve volunteers carried out a litter pick at Johnston’s Coppice this morning as part of the Clean for The Queen campaign.  We  collected fifty bags of litter, a kitchen sink, a car bumper and assorted other rubbish.

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Photo:  Gary Hughes