2015-16 Management Plan
This report summarises the activities that Beaufort Hill Ponds & Woodlands Preservation Society have planned to organise and accomplish in partnership with BGCBC and other volunteers and organisations.
GRID REFERENCE - SO 17279 11801
BEAUFORT HILL PONDS & WOODLANDS
WHO IS INVOLVED?
The Beaufort Hills Ponds and Woodlands Preservation Society comprises of 12 Directors from the local community and with a fluctuating wider membership of over 200. The Society has formed close working links with local schools – Beaufort Hill Primary School and Ebbw Fawr Learning Community but also partnerships have been formed between the group and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and other third sector organisations.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The site comprises of two man made ponds and several natural ‘scrapes’ with a community woodland to the west and north-west. A car parking area overlooking the ponds aims to encourage visitors from further afield and make it easier for people with disabilities to visit the woodland. Development of the site entrances aims to formalise access and encourage use of the site by the local community through an artist in residence scheme. The Society aim to promote, improve and environmentally enhance the area known as the Beaufort Ponds and Woodlands on behalf of the surrounding communities. The main ethos of the group is to reduce feelings of social exclusion by providing opportunities for social and recreational activities and by fostering well-being and social cohesion through community events and celebrations.
The Beaufort Hill Ponds & Woodlands Preservation Society was formed in March 2005 in response to the threatened loss of the Beaufort Ponds after the closure of the local steelworks. The aims of the Society were to help maintain and improve the ponds and woodlands and to preserve the environment for future generations. There are two large ponds on the site - the Upper and Lower Boat Ponds and two smaller ponds - the Butterfly and Drake Ponds
Over recent years, there has been a phased development of mixed broadleaved woodland. The site entrances have been built for easy access and also to encourage use by the local community. Car parking areas have been built overlooking the ponds to encourage visitors to the area; the old informal pathway network has been upgraded and resurfaced linking up much of the Woodlands. A new bridge with the inclusion of an “all ability” circular path was constructed around the Upper Boat Pond, giving good access not only to walkers, but also to wheelchair and pushchair users. This pathway links up with a network of other pathways throughout the Woodlands site. Our society is currently restoring many of the other old informal routes. Our work is to enhance the Beaufort Hill Ponds and Woodlands for the benefit of wildlife and the community of the surrounding area.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED?
The Society has greatly enhanced access to the area through a number of new access points and the development of existing ones. Local children have designed the new gateway artwork, and these have been so successful the themes are continued throughout the site. The informal path network has been upgraded to encourage access for all. Site interpretation concentrates on the flora, fauna and industrial heritage of the site. Further learning is encouraged through the project website. The society is particularly pleased with the level of community involvement and usage of the site and considers the amount of volunteer involvement as important both for the project and for the individuals involved. The skills gained by volunteers have been cited by the society as one of their main achievements. Blaenau Gwent CBC has achieved Local Nature Reserve status for the site as a result of the increased sustainable management aspects of the project.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
The involvement of local children in the design of the artwork throughout the site has encouraged them to take pride in their work and to take ‘ownership’ of the site. Their involvement in the early stages of planning and development has helped to lessen anti-social behaviour on the site and has resulted in greatly increased use of the site by families. This highlights the importance of getting children involved in projects at the early stages and encouraging them to stay involved through providing appropriate opportunities.
We aim to:
1.Promote sustainable development and environmental awareness through; events, website, newsletter and on-going management of the woodlands and ponds
2.Promote good practice with regard to recycling and composting, not throwing away anything that can be re-used.
3.Make sure all materials used are environmentally friendly, and sourced from local suppliers where possible.
4.Provide new wildlife habitats for example through the management of the Woodlands and Ponds.
WHAT IS NEXT?
Our project plan for 2015/16 is to continue to provide Educational and Leisure facilities through the maintenance of the woodlands and ponds whilst continuing our conservation work. The activities that the society has prioritised for this period, whilst considering the details of the wider Management Plan are:
1.To promote Ponds and Woodlands and encourage volunteering. The Society will exhibit once again at the BGCBC Biodiversity day in June 2016 and continue to photograph flora and fauna and publish on the website.
2.To build upon our previous work we aim to purchase and construct a second dipping platform/feeding station on the lower Boat Pond. We propose to work with the local Secondary School – Ebbw Fawr Learning Community to complete this.
3.Clear an area of scrub/trees both to encourage re growth of heath land and to provide improved access to an old poorly maintained hedgerow. A second hedge-laying course will be hosted at the woodlands to continue to preserve this hedging. The course will be led by members of Gwent Wildlife Trust.
4.To manage the informal paths – orientation scheme for educational/leisure use, a mapping system is currently in development and will be launched when all posts and plaques are in place. Complete the installation of way markers/ Rubbing Plaques for walkers/orienteering.
5.Formal path clearance and maintenance performed by students and local volunteers. We will also provide better access to the woodland by replacing stile/fencing with new kissing gates.
6.Purchase Power tools/PPE and to provide Public Liability insurance.
HOW WILL VOLUNTEERS BE INVOLVED IN THESE ACTIVITIES?
The volunteers will undertake many practical activities including: managing scrub area and woodlands, installation of gates and platforms, install way markers/rubbing plaques, reuse felled scrub/timber to construct hibernacula and shred for mulch, manage informal paths and install sleeper bridges to improve access to informal paths.
Photography flora and fauna to be found within the LNR – Display the results on the website.
Volunteers continually update website and social media sites.
Volunteers also attend regular monthly committee meetings, attend fundraising activities as well as meeting with like-minded organisations that can offer impartial advice.
Volunteers also coordinate and allocate tasks to other volunteers, as the organisation has no staff at present. Some examples of the activities that took place during this period can be seen on this page.
Further details of the activities and picture can be viewed at the Woodlands Facebook and Twitter pages, by clicking on their respective logos.