Helping hands

Smooth Newt Female (4)

Sometimes, nature needs a helping hand. Newts are surveyed on Clayhanger Common, image from Walsall Wildlife’s Flickr photostream.

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:

November 4, 2012 at 7:05 am

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.

Click on the screenshot to visit Morgan’s blog post.

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7 Responses to Helping hands

  1. *blushes* aw, shucks. 🙂

  2. mr keep your dog on its lead says:

    Lowland heath isn’t strictly natural around these parts it’s predominantly a manmade landscape that’s why it has to be managed by obliterating the natural growth including birch. The fact is that the implementation of this forced biodiversification is nether natural for our landscape or the environment native animal species require it’s my opinion that nature should be left to its own devices.
    If I’m wrong for wishing our wildlife some breathing space free from berserk dogs and trampling hordes or questionable biodiversity implementation via a chainsaw blade then so be it.

    Jarring you may find my opinions but misguided I am not misguided is to encourage yet more traffic into green spaces with all the disruption that comes with it.

    • Hi
      Thankfully, you’re in a tiny, misguided minority, and at odds with just about every environmental expert and group out there. I’d love to see some facts and research to back up your assertions.

    • stymaster says:

      I’ll freely admit I know three fifths of fuck all about countryside managment, but the rangers are able to back their argument up (and as this process has been done successfully before, there is evidence).

      Please, if you have evidence or research to back up your opinion, post a link.

    • Tim says:

      True, ‘natural’ as it didn’t exist at the dawn of time; but has since about 2 thousand years and the fora and fauna have adapted to it. The same with arable and pasture land……think about that next time you take a mouthful of potato and pour a bit of milk in your tea……………..

  3. Pingback: Hat tip to Walsall Council | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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