Last week we were busy cutting invasive garden plants in the mixed grassland at the Warren Road end of the boardwalk. This week we started on our regular cutting programme. Usually this doesn't happen until late September or October, but Natural England, who oversee our stewardship of the SSSI, asked us to cut the central area considerably sooner. This is because that section of the Common is the rare mire environment that is of such value as part of the Norfolk Valley Fens Special Area of Conservation, by virtue of the many species of low-growing mosses and liverworts, along with the lovely mix of flowering plants. These are being increasingly choked by the reeds that are spreading across that section, so the plan is to cut them early, before they set seed, and to gradually weaken them.
Speaking of weakening them, the early start of course means warmer weather; fortunately not so hot as last weekend, but still warrm and hunid enough to make the work arduous. That work doesn't happen by magic of course, and we were thrilled that 15 volunteers turned up, including Julie as our newest recruit. Before the offiical start time, a few diehards turn up early at the garden where all the tools are currently stored. We load the cart and trolley with the heavy tools and equipment, and then push them along the road and then along the boardwalk to where we will be working. All this adds to the amount of time we are working so hard, and especially at the end of a session is extra effort we could well do without. We are therefore thrilled that the solution is at hand; a storage container will be discretely installed at the edge of the site, meaning that we can get the necessary tools to where they are wanted much more easily. The District Council has given planning permission for it to be put there, and has kindly provided the cost of the container in a grant, We're just waiting for that to come to us and hope to have the container installed within the next couple of months.
We are always looking to reduce the effort involved for our volunteers: the cart, the winch and the new dragsheets being prime examples, but this storage solution will be one of the most significant developments, and we await it with great anticipation.
Back to today's working party: we expected far fewer people than actually turned out, so were a bit low on tools. This meant we had to go all the way back to where they are currently kept for more pitchforks, and crucially the winch, which we had thought would not have a driver. Here are some of the team in action:
And here is a dragseet being hauled by the winch, with its attendants ready to ehlp tip the cut reeds out.
And here is Chairman John's message of thanks:
Many thanks to all who helped this morning. I'd had so many apologies beforehand, as well as not knowing how people would react to our unprecedented August working party, that when so many of you arrived I was a bit overwhelmed and had to resort to a quickly made-up Plan B. In the event we made an impressive start to the cutting programme and I know we will meet Natural England's new demands. It will be interesting to see if the Central Area's appearance this coming winter is any different for having been cut so early.
We resume two weeks today, 28th August when I hope to see as many of you as possible.
Thanks again and kind regards
John 14th August 2016