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Conservation volunteering at Weymouth’s Lorton Meadows

October 21, 2011

By Catherine Mason – Community Conservation Officer

From October to March we run volunteer conservation tasks every fortnight at Lorton Meadows nature reserve in Weymouth. These task days are vital to help us manage the reserve for wildlife, and they are also a great way for local people to get out and enjoy the countryside while meeting new people and giving back a little to nature!

Scrub encroaching on fields

The task at hand this week was to make a start on the annual fight against scrub encroachment. Lorton Meadows contains some very valuable wildilfe-rich grassland with large traditional hedgerows dividing the fields. Unfortunately the blackthorn and bramble in these hedges are constantly spreading out into the fields and so need ongoing management. Whilst some of this is carried out by machines, in other areas the only way to cut back the scrub is by using hand tools, which is where our dedicated army of volunteers come in!

Scrub bashing

Brambles, blackthorn, hawthorn and dog rose were cut back from the meadow using loppers and secateurs. We do not want these cuttings to decompose where they are cut as this adds unwanted nutrients to the soil. For this reason we made a bonfire in the next field to burn all the cut scrub. As the site we were clearing was not suitable for a fire we had to carry the cuttings quite a long way!

Moving the cuttings

A handy tarpaulin was used to transport the material to the fire site meaning fences could be negotiated with ease, and a lot of teamwork! 

After several trips had been made it was time for a well earned lunch break! Our recently refurbished Conservation Centre allowed everyone to come in from the cold and warm up with a cup of tea.

Lunch time!

After lunch it was back to work, clearing more brambles from between the small oak trees planted by jays over the last 30 years. Then all the cut material needed moving to the fire site, so a last few trips with the tarpaulin.

Volunteers working hard

Several volunteers had been working hard to keep the small fire going, and eventually after a hard day’s work the last of the scrub had been burned.

Bonfire

If you are interested in coming along to volunteer at Lorton Meadows the next conservation task is on Wednesday 2nd November at 10:00. No experience necessary and all tools, gloves and training will be provided!

More information can be found here.

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