|LOCATION: Paynters Lane End, Illogan, near Redruth, Cornwall.
Children from Illogan have created a "Hibernation Hotel" for the wildlife in Manningham Wood and you can see this just behind the seat on the left as you enter the wood.
Newsletter February 2012
Maningham Community Woodland was created in 2004 from an area of derelict land that had been hidden behind locked and rusting gates for decades after Maningham House, to which the land belonged, fell into disuse.
With the help of funding from the National Lottery Fund, and under the stewardship of Illogan Parish Council, it was cleared of brambles, bracken, sycamore, laurel, rhododendron and tons of fly-tipped rubbish; new paths were laid and areas cleared of dangerous trees for future public use.
It was officially opened in October 2004, by Lady Mary Holborrow, as a Community Doorstep Green, under the vision:
“A woodland for all, accessible by everyone – nature on our doorstep.”
Following this, the care of the woodland was taken on by a group of volunteers who evolved out of the Illogan Parish Regeneration Group to help Illogan Parish Council steer the management of the woods as a community nature conservation initiative. This small group of volunteers are now a constituted community group, known as The Friends of Maningham Wood, who meet once a month to discuss the management needs of the woodland, either to be undertaken by the group itself or to be contracted out by IPC to organisations such as BTCV or Cornovia Tree Surgeons, and to organise various public events throughout the year so that the community can engage with the woodland and learn to respect the nature that is on their doorstep.
Jan 11 - Aug 11
Fungi in Maningham Wood
Who's in the bug hotel?
Building the bug hotel
Bat box making
OWNERSHIP & MAINTENANCE
Illogan Parish Council leases and is responsible for the maintenance of the site, with the assistance of a group of volunteers called The Friends of Maningham Wood. The maintenance and development of the site is funded jointly by the Parish Council and by outside funding sourced by the FoMW.
The site is open 24hrs a day, with a RADAR Key gate at the main entrance, and people from the village use it as a route from one side of the village to the other, between the church and school in the north and the shops in the centre of the village. The main users in our Spring Survey were parents with children and dog-walkers, but everyone uses the path through the wood as a nicer alternative to the main road through the centre of the village. The school and pre-school group use the wood as an outdoor classroom and the cubs and scouts use the wood to complete some of their community-based badges.
The woodland is managed to ensure that the native trees and understory plants take precedence over exotic species left over from when the woods were part of Maningham House’s ornamental gardens. To this end the FoMW have involved the community in the planting of native trees, such as Ash and Hawthorn, and native woodland plants, such as daffodils, wood anemones and snowdrops; whilst the Parish Council arranges for the removal of damaged or dangerous trees and invading species such as Crocosmia, Spanish Bluebells and hybrid varieties.
For every tree that is removed or pollarded, we ensure that 2 young trees are planted in order to maintain the biodiversity of the site and that nest boxes are erected to replace those natural nesting sites lost in the felling.
The woodland is criss-crossed with surfaced paths to enable access for all, including wheelchair-users and parents with prams and pushchairs; but dense vegetation is maintained outside of a 1meter strip either side of the paths to discourage people from leaving the paths and damaging the fragile habitats provided by plants such as native bluebell and the decaying woodpiles left throughout the woodland for invertebrates and small mammals.
The community has been involved since the beginning when they were consulted on the design and layout of the woodland. Since then they have been invited to community events every 2-3 months, to engage in activities such as tree and bulb planting, litter-picking, bracken-bashing, willow-planting, nature walks, environmental art competitions and general maintenance such as path-clearing. These activities started off being run with other organisations such as BTCV and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, but are now mainly led by members of the FoMW who have developed skills they can now share with the whole community.
The village primary school, Cubs, Scouts and Brownies all get involved with the children’s activities but the adult-led events are less well supported, despite the survey showing that most of the users thought that the space was well maintained and just what they wanted for their leisure activities of walking and nature-watching.
The FoMW publishes a newsletter every month to let the users know what is happening in the woodland, both event-wise and what wildlife they should look out for in the coming month, and also contributes to the village newsletter which is distributed to every household in the village.
SENSE OF PLACE
Before the Community Woodland was created, the area was a wilderness, hidden behind locked and rusting gates, used only by younger people at night and often the site of arson and drug and alcohol abuse.
Since its development, the area has become an open space for all to enjoy and has suffered less and less from destructive elements. The young people still use the woodland, and have built themselves shelters and dens within the wilder areas, but there is little evidence of misuse these days. Alcohol is still consumed within the woodland, but the local police officer patrols regularly and this has not prevented others from enjoying the space.
In 2007 the Community Woodland was joined to the Churchyard with a new path, and the whole village came out to celebrate it’s opening which was marked at the village Feast Day. This path has now opened up the village and enabled people to travel from one side to the other along a safer and more pleasant route than they had before.
DESIGN AND MATERIALS USED
The Woodland is designed to be used by all in the community and has a disabled access gate at the main entrance and wheelchair-friendly paths throughout. The surfaces of the paths are compacted natural aggregate and the seats and nature sculptures along these paths are made from locally sourced wood, by a local artist.
WILDLIFE & BIODIVERSITY
The biodiversity of the woodland is maintained by the planting of native trees and bulbs and the replacement of felled trees with saplings and nest boxes.
The woodland is managed with wildlife in mind and all felled wood remains within the woodland in piles or as logs or slices to provide shelter for small mammals and reptiles as well as food for invertebrates which, in turn, feed the mammals and small birds found throughout the site.
Hazel and Hawthorn have been planted to increase the autumn food sources for the wildlife, and no chemicals are used within the woodland to ensure that fungi and invertebrates also thrive.
The woodland is being used as a route to walk to school instead of children being driven through the village in carbon-emitting vehicles; and the canopy is constantly replenished with new trees to absorb some of that carbon dioxide, so there has to be some decrease in the carbon footprint of the village as a result. Being surrounded by nature must also make people think more about their effect on their environment, and we encourage families to take voluntary action with regular litter-picking events and always recycle what we can of the litter collected, to set an example for those involved.
The woodland has disabled access at the main entrance and is wheelchair-friendly throughout. Now that the path connecting the woodland to the churchyard is complete, disabled users can leave from a different exit rather than having to complete a circular route back to the main entrance.
The compacted paths enable parents with children in buggies and older people with shopping trollies to travel to and from the school and shops.
The site is leased by the Parish Council for the next 99 years, so the future of the site is as secure. As long as the community values the site, it is hoped that they will continue to take care of it, with the help of the volunteers that make up the Friends of Maningham Wood.
Maningham Woods is finally connected to Illogan Churchyard (part of the Living Churchyards Project) and the other side of the village by a new path.
The community celebrates this new pathway through the village on Illogan Feast Day, 2007
Native bluebells with Maningham Wood – the survival and spread of which is assisted by an annual community Bracken Bash event.
One of 6 wildlife sculptures dotted around the woodland, created by a local artist and families planting native spring bulbs to enhance the beauty of the woods and to improve the biodiversity.
Cubs clear litter from the woodland using equipment supplied by Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
The community makes nestboxes and plants young native trees to replace some of the old ones that had to be felled for safety reasons.
The 5th Redruth scouts wanted to earn their Community badges so they helped the Friends of Maningham Wood clear an overgrown willow structure to create a new woodland glade. This allows sunlight to reach the woodland floor and encourages wild flowers to colonise the area, increasing the biodiversity of the woodland by creating yet another habitat for wildlife.
Quiz leaflets for the wildlife information boards can be found in Illogan shops and village halls at both ends of the new Nature Trail through the village.
Children can use these leaflets to find their way around the woodland and the churchyard as they search for the answers to questions about the wildlife that can be found around them.
The Nature Trail was first suggested in responses to the Parish Plan a couple of years ago, and it has taken that long for the Friends of Maningham Wood to source the funding for such an adventurous project. The money was eventually obtained from the National Lottery Fund, Redruth Charities Trust and Cornwall in Bloom, and the information boards and quiz leaflets were produced by a Devon company, Nature Signs.
The boards were installed by the FoMW over a couple of weekends in March and the quiz leaflets were tested for the first time on Easter Sunday, when local children and visitors from Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Fox Club searched for the required information in the spring sunshine amongst the bluebells.
If you would like to get involved in future community events, or in helping to manage the woodland, please come along to the very informal FoMW meetings that are held on the first Monday of every month at 7.30pm in the meetings room of the Village Hall.
For further information please contact Alison Forward on 07880 948791.
WHY NOT JOIN AND BECOME A MEMBER OF
‘THE FRIENDS OF MANINGHAM WOOD’
Alison Forward 6 Voguebeloth, Illogan, Redruth, TR16 4EU Tele: 07880 948791
ILLOGAN PARISH COUNCIL