In all the debate about the greenspace in Walsall, and the approach of our civic leaders towards this valuable asset, one comment made by a reader here stuck in many minds. I personally found it jarring, and somewhat misguided.
The post was Spirit of the Greenwood, and the comment went as follows:
mr keep your dog on its lead says:
Give the flora and fauna the space it needs and let nature take its course nature doesn’t need gangs of welly clad missionaries bringing civilization via the inappropriately named nature trail.
I wouldn’t encourage more people to encroach into the last remaining refuges for wildlife for their own amusement people may want to get closer to nature but unfortunately nature doesn’t want them any closer.
I could take issue with this, and several folk did, but it’s a point of view and all are welcome. However, in the past couple of days, there’s been a response to this from Morgan Bowers, Countryside Ranger from Walsall Council, which I feel deserves a wider reading.
I also gather there’s some commotion amongst Shire Oak Park Nature Reserve users about recent heathland management works undertaken in the park. I knew this would happen, it does every time the reserve undergoes management, which I why I published the explanation of the tasks to be undertaken. These techniques look dramatic, but are well proven and work.
Roger ‘Ziksby’ Jones compiled the above slideshow after a visit to investigate the work at Shire Oak. He had this to say in response:
Countryside Services spent this week carrying out conservation work there which has upset a number of local residents and park users. The Park is designated as ‘Lowland Heath’, a rare and valuable habitat, which requires continual maintenance to prevent the spread of birch woodland, which, if left unchecked would swamp the heath in a very short period.
Wondering just what had happened this week, I took a look myself this afternoon. Not all doom and gloom I’m happy to say. For regular users it might be a sight too much to bear. I haven’t been for a few weeks but most of the reserve appears to be untouched. The areas where work has been carried out do, of course, bear the scars as can be seen. But come next spring you’ll hardly notice. As has been pointed out, yesterday’s downpour didn’t help as many of the paths are muddy with pools of standing water.
I’ve no doubt the work schedule from Ranger Colin & Countryside Services has been carried out correctly according to plan. Shire Oak Park will soon be looking better than ever.
I implore Mr. Keep… (and the other four aliases he has here – curious), and any Shire Oak Park users to read Morgan’s post. Sometimes, it’s necessary to be cruel in order to be kind; in urban settings like ours, open spaces can’t reach a biodiverse balance without management, and Walsall is not unique. Every month I implore folk to help out at Chasewater, where similar works are undertaken.
If we want to maintain the range and health of our open spaces, management and control are essential. Please read Morgan’s post, and marvel at the passion and commitment this talented ecologist exemplifies.