Skip to main content

NIA application and Management Proposal

Cannon Hill Park was originally opened to the public in 1873 and is made up of 80 acres of formal parkland and 120 acres of conservation area and woodland plantation. It is situated within the heart of Birmingham and runs along the River Rea corridor. The park itself is popularly used by the community for numerous activities such as walking, running, football, forest schools, seasonal fair-grounds, picnics and other recreational pass-times. Alongside this there are walks and cycle paths running further along the River Rea corridor aimed at catering for wildlife enthusiasts, those seeking exercise and people looking for a good day out. Cannon Hill Park has successfully achieved Green Flag status for the past 10 years which recognises the park as one of the best green spaces in the country. Within the wilder areas of the park there is a need for some woodland management. A number of areas of plantation were created 20-30 years ago as part of various different planting schemes. These have been left mostly alone and could now benefit from being thinned out to create room for remaining trees to develop and also to encourage ground flora to thrive. As part of a 2 year programme thinning will take place in the Queen Mother’s and RSPB plantation. The two plantations consists of Hornbeam, Field Maple, Hazel, Oak, Scott’s Pine, Ash, Silver Birch, Prunus sp., and Apples sp.. Approximately 30% of each plantation will be thinned. In the first year the densest areas will be targeted. There is very little ground flora in these sections and it will be possible to introduce a ground flora seed mix directly after thinning. It will be necessary to remove the dead leaf layer to expose the bare earth. In the second year thinning will be more targeted in the remaining areas. The ground flora is grassier and will be removed using herbicide in summer 2014. Then, after completion of the tree thinning the ground flora seed mix can be introduced. Species such as Foxglove, Wood Millet, Primrose and Red Campion. There will also be opportunity to under-plant with native tree species in some area, such as where dense areas of Birch are thinned. There is an existing perennial meadow in Cannon Hill Park that was created in 2010 following some building works. There is the potential to increase the species mix using hay strewing of patches. In 2014, a few small patches will be treated with herbicide and green hay from a donor site will be introduced. There is a smaller area, currently left un-mown, directly south of the existing meadow, adjacent to the Queen Mother’s plantation. The current species mix is quite poor. This area will also be treated with herbicide and green hay introduced. Yellow Rattle will be introduced on both meadow sites in 2014. There is great scope for community involvement in this project. Wildlife Trust community and education staff will run 6 days of volunteering/training/school sessions in the first year of the project and potentially also in the second year. It is not clear exactly what will be the best use of the session until the consultation is complete. It is the aim to encourage people to come along and learn new skills in woodland and grassland management and to also learn about the biodiversity of the park and how they can help in the future. The work as described above forms part of a wider plan to improve the River Rea corridor. There are other NIA projects taking place alongside the river, such as Rea meadows, and there is also potential to engage the local community through a number of events planned by the Birmingham City Rangers, the Friends of Cannon Hill Park and the Wildlife Trust.


Popular posts from this blog

Highbury Park Friends January 2017 newsletter

Join Highbury Park Friends to get up to date information about this wonderful park - follow the link above for the latest newsletter.

There's so much going on already and this is set to increase as the Chamberlain Highbury Trust look to bring many new and exciting ideas to the Highbury estate and adjoining park land. Check out their website on the links below

Weekly and monthly activities incuding 'Woodland Wednesdays' with the Rangers and B&BCWT, supported by NIA (Nature Improvement Area) funding.

Woodland Play after school club, every Wednesday at the Orchard - Highbury Orchard Community Interest Company oversee this -

A visiting student from Virginia asks -

Q1 What do you think are the biggest benefits of teaching and using traditional woodland management techniques in city parks?
A1. The essence of a Ranger’s role is to engage the community at large with the aim of encouraging more people to use parks and green spaces. Therefore a range of themes, topics and activities are employed to meet the broad interests and diverse nature of the public, involving people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities etc. 
The ‘woodland’ theme seems to have universal appeal and is steeped in history, ecology, science, spirituality, mythology and culturally, much more.
So generally we can assume people want to learn something new, make something using natural resources and have an involvement in their local green space, so that a few basic skills, some knowledge and a morsel of understanding related to ecological principles allows people to feel good about themselves and enables them to share these good feelings, acquired skills and gained knowledge with…

Ecotones and Succession = TENSION

The term 'ecotone' cropped up this week as a Tree Officer colleague and I looked at Holders Woods in an exercise to describe the woodland structure, composition and current management.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension. (Wiki)

Ecotones are generally recognised for ecological richness and a good place to observe the 'tensions' and interactions between certain animals and plants.

A woodland edge for example is often regarded as the richest part of a woodland, especially if the edge is bordered by grassland meadow or water.

The Rea Valley in this regard is a wonderful mix of urban ecosystems and ecotones, and one of my favourite locations is the developing oak woodland at the edge of Holders Woods. Undoubtedly the result of acorn planting Jays, we find oaks ranging from year 1 to year 50, but with a majority of young trees around 10-20 years, sugge…