By cassfoundation, Nov 6 2018 12:59PM
Here at The Cass Foundation we are hard at work behind the scenes, seeking ways to improve our mission of building better places for people and wildlife. We have plenty of projects in the pipeline, but mostly, we are having a little reflection time, looking back at all our previous projects; assessing and monitoring and we hope, over the next season, to reflect on and share some of our successes, stories and case studies. We'll also introduce you to the team and share some of our stories and passions that all contribute to making The Cass Foundation such a burgeoning success story.
What we’re up to
At present, we are leading on a collaborative project, developing a further one and a half kilometres of path network in Dam Wood, in Croxteth, Liverpool. These woods have gradually become increasingly neglected over the years, resulting in fly tipping, anti-social behaviour and a very wet and muddy journey through the woods, virtually inaccessible for wheelchairs and buggies. Thanks to funding secured from Veolia Environmental Trust and Liverpool City Council, work began in July 2018, upgrading, repairing and resurfacing the path and addressing the quite severe drainage issues. Already it is in use, offering a safer and clearer route through the woods.
We are crossing fingers and holding thumbs for an additional funding application that would see a new creative art installation and entrance gate feature at the Fir Tree Drive and Oak Lane North entrance. Our vision is to brand Dam Wood as a creative educational resource, a community woodland that fires the imagination, spurs creativity and inspires learning. We would like to invite the community to co-design an arts trail snaking through the woods, linking the path with wider Croxteth and Liverpool, paving the way for Dam Woods to be recognised as a cultural woodland and a visitor destination.
Alongside the path resurfacing, we have started monthly outdoor volunteering sessions. We have been managing the woods adjacent to the path, cutting back overgrown trees and hedges, especially Rhododendron, creating openings in the woods in preparation for outdoor activities and doing general habitat management, facilitated by Lancashire Wildlife Trust. We have had a good turnout over the past few sessions, averaging 12 – 14 participants, mostly members of Friends of Croxteth Green Spaces, The Cass Foundation staff and trustees, passers by and some very welcome newcomers.
A hot drink and a lot of chat is guaranteed and there are jobs suitable for all levels of energy, ability and expertise, no experience is necessary. We have many interesting activities planned for next year, including wildflower planting, tree planting, habitat surveys and bird and bat surveys, so make sure to follow us on Facebook to keep in the loop.
Conservation Task Days
As part of this programme, we have 10 conservation task days to offer local schools, businesses and community groups. We can tailor the sessions to the needs of your group and we think it’s a great alternative to a Christmas Celebration or night out. Come along and take part in supporting your local greenspace and have a hand in shaping the future of your environment. Give us a call for further information, tel: 0151 558 0886 or email: [email protected]
Why we clear Rhododendron
Rhododendron is not native to the UK and, as with many exotic flowering plants, was introduced by the Victorians. It is beautiful, and when in bloom we can see why it was so prolifically planted in parks and public grounds, providing a splash of vibrant colour with very little maintenance required.
Some say that Rhododendron is responsible for the destruction of many native habitats, leaving land abandoned throughout Britain because it is expensive to control and can physically make access difficult. When conditions are right, Rhododendron thrives and can outcompete most British plants. Its branches and leaves form a dense canopy, blocking out light and making it difficult for any other plants to grow or germinate. Without local plant life, wildlife is diminished as most Rhododendrons are quite toxic. Added to this is the sticky residue that covers the buds, discouraging insects from feasting, as well as being toxic. The older leaves are tough and unpalatable and poisoning can result if eaten by grazing animals. Because of this, grazing is also not an option to keep it in check. Once rhododendron has settled into an area, few native species can survive.
So, therefore one of the main tasks during our Outdoor volunteering days is to clear the Rhododendron. We cut it back and keep managing it as best we can, but still it will continue to spread through its large root system. We also need to remove the layer of woodland humus – layers upon layers of the toxic leaves that have been dropped over time, as these form a dense blanket, preventing new seeds from germinating and establishing.
This, too, is why we need an enthusiastic team of volunteers and Woodland Helpers to keep an eye out and pull up new Rhododendron plants as they emerge. For further information or to become a Friend of Croxteth Green Spaces, contact them on Facebook.
Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.