Since the Meadow was acquired by the Parish Council, it has been managed by volunteers with just three voluntary managers during those twenty-seven years or more. The only contracted work was in mowing the paths through the Meadow in May to keep the area accessible, plus a complete cut in the autumn.
In recent years, it seems volunteer wardens who are prepared to undertake the physical work of scrub clearance, raking, burning and hedge maintenance have become fewer and the ups and downs of their availability has meant that the reserve has not been managed consistently well.
There are three management committee meetings each year, chaired by a parish councillor and attended by the manager and wardens and it was agreed recently that we should move towards a contracted maintenance regime for the major annual tasks, thereby freeing up the volunteers for the more rewarding, occasional initiatives.
The greatest benefit of this will be the annual removal of the hay in the autumn, and good maintenance of the hedges and paths. An example of the difficulties experienced is the brookside path. This was cleared by volunteers a few years ago and made for a popular and pleasant walk adjacent to the stream which was previously inaccessible. However, this needs at least one cut each year with a brushcutter to keep it clear which in turn means getting heavy tools down to the field. No one is prepared to take their private car along Lings Lane now and this means that the path has been neglected.
In 2012, the access path was cleared as far as the top path. In 2013 the rest of the path will be cleared and the access path maintained. Clearance will continue at an affordable rate until the Meadow needs simple annual maintenance to keep it in good condition for wildlife and attractive to visitors.
We cleared the top path so that in future, a tractor-mounted flail can maintain these boundaries annually. To enable access we also had to remove a limb from the Ash tree on the path down.
We cleared a lot of the scrub that hides the brook (fewer blackberries - I'm sorry about that!) so that this most attractive feature can be more readily appreciated. We removed a large willow tree from the small pond in the meander ("Willow Pond") as it was transpiring large amounts of water from the pond and the pond was deepened and enlarged with ledges for safety and habitat creation. Sadly the pond will not hold water permanently in all years and we may install a liner during some future work.
The topsoil was scraped from the west-facing bank in the hope that trefoils, vetches and cinquefoils will colonise and encourage speciality butterflies. The soil from the pond was used to fill in some of the most marked depressions that inhibit the use of modern machinery to cut and remove the hay.
"King's Field", the smaller of the two fields was flailed and a Hawthorn tree was removed. This is to allow access for maintenance of this field which had not been managed since 1985 and which was scrubbing over. It was planned to open up the meander and dig out some ponds here but time didn't allow it and it is something we will consider for a future effort.
The cost of the work was assisted by a 75% contribution from Rushcliffe Borough Council's Wetland and Ponds Grant.If you have any concerns or suggestions, please e-mail me, Neil Pinder, at email@example.com or call me on 0115 9144896.