Implementation of the Management Plan by Volunteers in 2002

The long-term strategy of Horspath Parish Council is to develop and enhance the biodiversity of the Wildlife Conservation Area and to provide safe access for local people and others interested in wildlife conservation, so that they can enjoy the wildlife and learn about it, without disturbing it unreasonably. Horspath Parish Council receives a report every month on the Wildlife Conservation Area from the project leader, who is also a Councillor. The Council then reviews the immediate priorities for committing volunteer help and any grant funding to particular projects in order to follow the long-term management strategy. The project leader draws up the spending budget for the Council’s approval and formulates applications for grant funding on behalf of the Parish Council. All receipts and expenses in connection with the Wildlife Conservation Area are recorded and incorporated in the Parish Council’s annual audited accounts. There is a general presumption that the best possible value for money will be obtained by using the various specialist skills and the commercial connections of members of the volunteer group. There is a general policy that no task is undertaken by volunteers unless it can be achieved in accordance with the appropriate Health & Safety guidelines set out by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Insurance cover is provided for volunteers through the Parish Council’s insurers, and is extended to cover Councillors for any specialist work in the Area involving the use of vehicles. The volunteer work during the past year has been split between further wildlife habitat creation, improving visitor access and information, and developing a seasonal routine of habitat maintenance based upon the minimum of human intervention. The regular core group of experienced volunteers is now pre-briefed by e-mail before each volunteer day is held.

In 2002 the conservation management was designed around a series of 12 achievable monthly mini-projects, such that each project could usually be completed after one day of intensive volunteer activity:

  1. Cutting, transporting, sizing and assembling 100 or so logs for the log footbridge across the wetland.
  2. Nailing the planking onto the logs and onto railway sleepers, to create the 10 metre long footbridge.
  3. Treating the planking, and stapling on chicken wire mesh as a non-slip surface on the footbridge.
  4. Fitting the steel handrails to the completed footbridge, setting them in cement, and painting the structure.
  5. Moving 20 tons of rock into the bat hibernaculum to become a raised walkway above the water inside.
  6. Raking off the cut vegetation from the wildflower meadow and building up a compost heap.
  7. Cutting back and burning bushes overgrowing the path near the entrance gate to improve safety.
  8. Cutting back overhanging trees and branches which overshadowed the clay wildflower meadow.
  9. Checking, recording, cleaning out, repairing and replacing the 12 bird boxes (for Tits) before the winter.
  10. Painting navigation marks on the bat hibernaculum walls, and surveying the tunnel temperatures.
  11. Clearing fallen trees and other debris from the ‘circular footpath’ around the Area.
  12. Consolidating the clay dams with concrete beams and clearing the sluices before the winter rains.

    Copyright © Martin Harris & Alan Simpson 2003 Back to the Index Last Updated 2003-03-21