Friends of Allestree Park

Allestree Park in Derby, England

Allestree Park Local Nature Reserve Site Meeting 15th June, 2011

1. Present:

David Winslow (DCC); Beverley Rhodes (DCC); Mick Day (DCC); John Menzies; Bill Grange: Pat Sear; Peter Grundy; Mark Sims; Edwin Slade (FOAP Committee);  Nick Law (DWT); Steve Wright, Tom Watkins BTCV), plus several members of FOAP and General Public.

2. Tour Around the Reserve

a. To look at broken down fence along Woodlands Lane – to consider its replacement by a hawthorn hedge (agreed last year, but not implemented).

It appears that there was a break-down of communications and BTCV were not contacted by DCC regarding planting the hedge. There had also been a resumption of herbicide spraying – not compatible with the LNR – though it had been agreed last year that it would cease.

D.W. is to look into the spraying of herbicide along the roadside. It may have been carried out by DCC Highways department as a safety measure. The hedgerow could potentially be planted by Wild Derby, BTCV and FOAP with the agreement of DCC Parks.

b. To look at progress and effectiveness in the work to line main path through Big Wood with timber (main path and steps down to golf course completed). To consider further work - FOAP working with Derbyshire Conservation Volunteers? To look at recent tree planting adjacent to path by FOAP and DCV.

This, it was agreed, had been very effective in helping to protect the bluebells and other vegetation. It was intended to complete lining the side path to Woodlands Lane this coming autumn/winter. Further discussions are required to determine what further path-lining could be carried out. Most of the new trees seemed to have survived, in spite of the recent drought.

c. To look at the state of rhododendron clearance (mainly by BTCV) in an area in the central part of the wood and the need to clear sycamore (not carried out by Broomfield College, as arranged). To consider what needs to be done – as part of the Open Spaces Lottery Application by Friends of Allestree Park. To consider replacement shrub and tree planting.

We saw that there was much more to be done. Further discussions/site visits were envisaged regarding the clearance of sycamore and rhododendron from an area in the centre of the woodland as part of the Open Spaces bid by FOAP – and it was hoped that work would commence in the forthcoming autumn/winter.

d. To consider idea to put in ‘rustic’ steps down the steep slope to northern part of Big Wood - FOAP working with Derbyshire Conservation Volunteers?

This was put to the vote by the assembled party and it was turned down. It was decided that there were more pressing priorities for FOAP to consider at present. The project may be considered again at some point in the future.

e. To look at the ‘Tree O’clock’ planting site at the northern part of Big Wood – to see sycamore clearance and ring barking, carried out by FOAP and Derbyshire conservation Volunteers, and how the young trees are progressing. To consider further tree-planting.

Most of the trees – except those at the higher part of the site – seemed to be doing well, though there has been extensive rabbit damage, in spite of guards being used. The ferns and other vegetation have done better with the increased light conditions.

There is scope for further tree planting to replace those have failed and also further down-slope where no planting has taken place.

f. To consider the situation with Woodlands Field City Wildlife Site (now recovering after the removal of the horses, but still subject to heavy grazing by rabbits). There will probably be no time to visit this site.

The site wasn’t visited but it was agreed that the situation was better now the horses had gone, but that there was still rather too much grazing by the rabbits. B.G. showed a photograph of a leaf-hopper – a new Derbyshire Record – recorded by him last summer in Woodlands Field, and also referred to other unusual finds of insect species in the general Park, highlighting its special significance as a LNR. It was agreed to arrange a site meeting in the near future to assess the condition of Woodlands Field and what further conservation work needs to be carried out there.

g. To look at the site along the Burley Brook, east of the Hall where sycamore clearance was carried out by the City Council and replanting carried out by FOAP and DCV.

It was seen that the clearance of sycamore and rhododendron had greatly encouraged the development of a diverse flora. Because of this, it was agreed that no further planting of trees and shrubs was required, even if many of those planted last winter had failed to thrive. FOAP thanked both Mick and Neil (DCC Park Rangers) for their involvement in this and other projects. There was also an expression of appreciation from those present to Mick Day for his dedication in working to improve the Park, especially as he is now the only resident ranger.

h. To look at the route of the footpath through the woodland between the main car park and the lake – A major project being organised by FOAP and the Council as part of FOAP’s Open Spaces lottery bid.

J.M. explained that the proposed path surfaced with compacted dust limestone topping – replacing an uneven and often muddy route – would complete a circuit of the eastern part of the Park, including the Lake and be of great benefit to those people who are physically less able.

i. To look at the management of the wildflower meadow area immediately to the west of the above woodland.

We have been informed by the Grounds Maintenance Manager that the mowing of this earlier in the year had been a mistake and that appropriate management of the meadow will now be carried on.

j. To look at bank stabilization works around the Lake – those already in place (including the duck feeding platform,) and those planned, again as part of the Open Spaces bid.

J.M.  explained that seven areas of the lake shore would be subject to erosion control works, involving timber stakes and back filling to create as naturalistic appearance as possible. We also looked at two areas which had willow ‘revetments’ planted offshore to reduce erosion by wave action. One area was vegetating up quite well. The lake viewing platform, which had been subject to fire damage, has now been repaired. Many thanks to BTCV for completing the repair on what has become a ‘must see’ for all park users.

k. To look at established wild habitats immediately to the north of the Lake and the possibility of extending these (as proposed in the LNR Management Plan) by relaxing the current mowing regime.

There was no time to examine these areas, but it was suggested that further discussions be arranged to discuss the extension of the wild area north of the lake, in line with recommendations in the LNR Management Plan. D.W will speak with Grounds Maintenance in an effort to extend the wildflower meadow north of the lake.

l. To consider any problems that might arise with the integrity of the Local Nature Reserve as a result of the new arrangements regarding the golf course.

D.W. Said that he was keen to sort out any problems which might arise here and that the integrity and enhancement of the LNR was paramount. He said that notices which had been recently erected referring to people entering the Golf Course and dogs having to be on leads had not been well thought out and would  be replaced and those positioned in the LNR would be repositioned on the golf course boundary.

m. To look at incursions into the LNR by recent operations near the Evergreen Hall entrance.

D.W. said that the logs which had been placed along the edge of the Golf course had been for the reasons of health and safety. Most of them had been obtained from other areas of the Park, but people regretted that some of them had been taken from a nearby small area of woodland, thus disrupting the habitat. D.W. said that he was in close contact with golf course management and would request for this not to happen again. In addition, contrary to some information, Grounds Maintenance has no plans for severe cutting back of the trees and shrubs at this point.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018