Monday, 7 June 2010

Lobby Council to make Grove Wood a nature reserve

On Thursday June 10th from 4pm, Bristol City Council's Cabinet will be discussing whether Grove Wood should be declared a Local Nature Reserve and whether they should consider compulsory purchasing the woods to secure its future for wildlife and public enjoyment, if the landowner is not prepared to work with the Council to manage the woods properly.

A Local Nature Reserve designation would ensure that Grove Wood was managed for wildlife, public enjoyment and educational use - just what we have been calling for since 2008.

You can help make this happen by:
1) Emailing democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk no later than noon on Wednesday June 9th stating why you think the Council should declare an LNR and buy Grove Wood - the criteria for designation are below to help you write your email
2) Asking to speak at the Cabinet Meeting on June 10th - you need to request this in the email you send the Council
3) Joining Snuff Mills Action Group outside the Council House on College Green at 3.30pm to show how much you want this to happen - make and bring banners!

We may also organise a photocall for the media in Grove Wood in the next few days so watch this space.

For a Local Nature Reserve to be declared, Grove Wood will have to fulfill these criteria:
1) It should be more than 2ha in size - it's at least 14ha we believe
2) Capable of being managed with the conservation of nature and/or the maintenance of special opportunities for study, research or enjoyment of nature as the priority concern - it is an ancient woodland that could be managed for wildlife and over a hundred people have written statements to show that they use it for public enjoyment.

To become a LNR the woods should also be either:

a) Of high natural interest in the local context - An ecological report reveals rare plants, protected bats, otters and kingfishers, you could say what wildlife you have seen there in your email to the Council OR
b) Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for formal education or research or - We are in discussions with the Museum service about a big education project to compare Grove Wood with Snuff Mills to find out why they are so different, there is huge potential educational use in Grove Wood, but this cannot happen while it is in unsympathetic ownership OR
c)Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public - over 100 people have written evidence statements about their use of Grove Wood for legal sports and past-times as part of our application to have it declared a Town Green.

Please post whatever you send the Council here to inspire others - the more representations they get, the greater the chances they will do this.

Evening Post article

35 comments:

andy-s said...

Brilliant - let's all get behind SMAG on this issue and get a good turn out at the Council House next week and send off plenty of supporting emails.

stevem said...

A message from Kazakstan to the Council about Grove Wood.

For the attention of The Bristol City Council Cabinet.

I am writing to you in the hope that a decision is made to save Grove woods from the possibility of development and that the woods be kept as it has always been a natural beauty area.
I am sure you will recieve many mails and letters supporting Save Grove woods, Snuff Mills, Bristol.and will be giiven many good positve reasons to keep the woods as they are so rather than make a long repetative list and to keep this mail short I am just writing to show my support.
There are many people who like myself were born and grew up in the Stapleton area where we played in Snuff Mills and the surrounding for many years and they were often used for nature walks by Begbrook School and the local cubs and scout group, 197th 1st Stapleton.
Even though many of us have maybe moved from the area to other parts of the UK or live and work much further away as myself, Snuff Mills and Grove woods still have many fond memories.
On return visits to Bristol I always try and make time to visit the area where the Snuff Mills Action Group have done fantastic work restoring the gardens and undertaken other important issues to save the woods, all voluntery, without this group the area will be lost……..and once it's gone…it's gone ! I have taken my children there and showed them around as I know many others take their children and grandchildren.

Yours sincerely

Hilbron Runde.

stevem said...

And here's one from someone much more local:

Dear Sir or Madam

Firstly may I say how pleased I am that the council is continuing to take a keen interest in the Grove Wood site and appears to be doing what it can to prevent further decline in it's amenity value to local residents and the wider community.

I am also highly delighted to hear that you are holding this meeting to discuss the possibility of making it a Local Nature Reserve. As someone who lives locally I can confirm that I see plenty of people visiting Grove Wood at all times of the year, some simply out for a leisurely walk with family / friends, some walking their dogs, some participating in sports training, mountain biking, fishing and even horse riding (occasionally), it's amenity value

In my opinion people love this site because of it's raw natural beauty, it is a little oasis that takes you to another place, away from the hustle and bustle of our busy city lives. I personally have seen herons, kingfishers and many other familiar birds and insects, dragon flies, foxes, badgers, and through the sterling efforts of the local action group we also know that there are otters and rare plant species in the woods. Grove Wood is very much part of Snuff Mills and personally I doubt that people outside the area probably don't even realise it's not.

I urge you please to designate this beautiful ancient woodland a Local Nature Reserve for us all to appreciate and enjoy forever.

Many thanks for the opportunity to have my say

Cherry

stevem said...

A submission from Kate and Mark of Fishponds:
I am writing to you at the Council to say that Grove Wood should be purchased by the council as an important educational resource for local schools, a green community space, a potential agricultural space - identified by the Council's own 'Peak Oil' report (The Green Capital Momentum Group and Bristol City Council) as vital for a positive future- and as an historically significant Local Nature Reserve. The reasons for this are set out below:

Educational resource:

My family has now for 4 generations used this wood as a place to play, relax, enjoy wildlife and as part of our walk to school (Begbrook) and work (UWE campuses) from Fishponds. We have often seen wildlife there including otters, herons, kingfishers and on one lucky occasion, a deer.

I know that Begbrook Primary is a keen supporter of the woods and use Snuff Mills and Grove Woods as an educational resource for children - which is increasingly important given how the increased numbers of cars on our roads have made 'playing out' in one's street a dangerous pastime. All schools and universities are now looking at how sustainability can be brought into the curriculum - for example the 'teaching trees' initiative which is becoming increasingly vital in preparing our children for the challenges of the future. There are a number of local schools in walking distance from the woods who could make good use of it.

stevem said...

More from Kate and Mark - their submission is too long to put in a single post:

UWE is also looking at ways to educate students and staff in sustainability issues as well as encouraging students and staff to volunteer in their local community - wouldn't it be great if nearby St Matthias, Glenside and Frenchay campuses could be involved in some kind of 'green gym' initiative as already happens in parks across Bristol - raising awareness about health, community and the environment?

A green community space:

My great-Uncle who is now 94 played in those woods as a child. The advantage of the broad paths and the cafe and car park on the other side of the river mean that it is still an accessible place for those who may have walking difficulties but who can still enjoy the paths down by the river.

As well as being an important green 'breathing space' for this part of the city - our equivalent of the downs - it serves as a useful thoroughfare for schoolchildren and employees of the University of the West of England. It is very well used by cyclists for this purpose and local children use the woods as part of their walk or cycle to school - an enjoyable and car-free route. The more people who do this the less traffic there is on our already congested roads. It is quicker in the mornings to walk through Grove Woods and Snuff Mills between the St Matthias and Frenchay campuses than it is to use a car - not to mention the health benefits of this! Your own website on its 'peak oil policy' pages states that:

'With the price of oil on the increase, how we go from A to B needs to change - and there are plenty of local initiatives going on to inspire you which will probably make you feel healthier and happier as a result!'.

I would propose that raising awareness of the cycling and walking networks across Snuff Mills, the valley and Grove Woods would be one such initiative, and welcome the recent developments along the Snuff Mills route.

A vital part of our peak oil plans:

Transition Bristol's aims are, as their website states, 'a timetabled, well thought out plan for Bristol’s transition from an energy dependent system to a locally resilient, sustainable, productive and vibrant city'. For this to work, we need to keep and maintain our city's green spaces, not just for wildlife, leisure, education, health and well-being but for our basic survival in the coming decades.

Joined up thinking is needed here - this is an area of signficance historically, educationally and in terms of its wildlife. It is a place well used by visitors wanting to enjoy some green space in the city. But it's not just about preserving it. It's about using it as a sustainable resource both now as a useful walking/cycling thoroughfare and in the future as a potential agricultural space, as set out in your own Peak Oil Report:

'Appreciating the value of Bristol's open spaces and natural resources the city council recently adopted both an extensive Biodiversity Action Plan and an ambitious twenty-year development plan which aims to give everyone access to a park within easy walking distance. A related venture, Bristol Living Rivers, endeavours to engage the public in an ongoing campaign to maintain and improve the city's waterways.

It is clear from this and the points raised above, that to put your policies and plans into meaningful and sustainable practice, these woods must be purchased.

stevem said...

And one from Laura:

Dear Bristol City Council Cabinet

I strongly support the proposal to compulsory purchase and designate Grove Woods, Bristol as a Local Nature Reserve.

The woodland and river corridor here provide an important refuge for wildlife within the city and are a great place for the local community to gain access to quality green space. By designating the site as a LNR it would ensure the woodland is managed to optimise its ecological value and protect the site for future generations.

There are many protected species present, including kingfisher, bats and otters. I myself have seen kingfishers and bats here and have often walked my dogs with my family through the woods since I was a small child and I know my father used to also play in the woods and river through Snuff Mills and Grove Woods as a child.

It is this early connection with nature that has helped create my love of wildlife since I was a small child and has resulted in me pursueing a career in nature conservation. This is one of the reasons why I believe Grove Woods is such an important site as it provides the opportunity for city children to engage with nature on their doorstep rather than see it as an abstract thing that they travel to zoos and safari parks to see.

Bristol is known as a very green city and is the proud host of Bioblitz, the BBC Natural History unit and the Festival of Nature. I think that to risk allowing anything detrimental to happen to this site would not reflect well on the city's green eco-friendly credentials and BCC should use the opportunity to purchase Grove Woods in this the International Year of Biodiversity and manage it as a flagship wildlife site for the local community in the east of the city.

Kind regards

stevem said...

Chris from Fishponds' submission - hear her speak too at the meeting on Thursday:

Dear Bristol Cabinet


I would like to express my full support for the proposal that Grove Wood be made a Local Nature Reserve and therefore sensitively managed for present and future generations of Bristolians. Unfortunately the present owner has demonstrated on several occasions that he has little regard for this wood and the plant and animal life it contains.


I am aware that Grove Wood is designated "ancient woodland" and is situated in the Stapleton Conservation area. It has rare species of plant life and is home to protected species like bats and badgers. I have enjoyed seeing muntjac deer, owls and kingfishers there too. Its fifteen acres provide a peaceful and beautiful haven and contrasts with the landscape of Snuff Mills, the council owned park on the opposite bank. I live locally and have walked through the wood for many years since I was a child.


I have twice lobbied the Council to purchase the site. It first came to auction in February 2000 when it was sold to Mr Olpin and I again contacted Council officers in November 2007 when it was to be auctioned on 3rd December 2007 (not auctioned in November as referred to in the report.) I was very disappointed that BCC did not purchase the wood on either occasion.


I am a local resident and member of Snuff Mills Action Group and can confirm that Grove Wood has been and is well used by hundreds of local people for their recreation. I was delighted that a Tree Preservation order was eventually confirmed to protect the whole wood, after the owner felled trees without permission and lit fires with scant regard to wild life.


I would like the opportunity to address the cabinet personally and look forward to attending the meeting on 10th June.

stevem said...

Sandra and Keith from Stapleton have has their say too:

Cabinet Discussion regarding Grove Wood, Stapleton, Bristol - 10.6.2010

We are writing to register our support for Grove Wood, Stapleton, Bristol to be designated as a Local Nature Reserve and to be compulsorily purchased by Bristol City Council so that the residents of Bristol will not lose this wonderful natural amenity.

This is such a beautiful site of ancient woodland within the boundaries of the City of Bristol and is home to an abundance of wildlife. It is a peaceful environment where many local residents like to walk and catch glimpses of the animals and birds they would not normally see. This is an outstanding area for educating children and adults about nature conservation and to make them realise how precious green corridors are in a big city.

We walk the valley most days of the week and there is always something of interest to see, whether it be baby ducklings in Spring, the kingfisher going about its business, the grey wagtails etc. or just the difference in how the trees look in each season of the year.

Grove Wood should be protected and we feel the Council should seize the opportunity to make this happen. The present owner has tried his best to ruin this natural environment and has no respect for flora and fauna as a catalogue of well documented actions and complaints testify. This owner has to be relieved of this land to protect it for the future of Bristol and its residents.

stevem said...

A short but sweet response from Andy of Stapleton

Dear Committee members, I am writing to urge you to pass the plan to make Grove Wood in Stapleton a Local Nature Reserve(LNR). I am a resident who lives in close proximity to the wood and have seen and experienced first handthe damage caused by the present owner, not only to the trees and wildlife but to the whole look ofthe area. Many trees were felled without permission and have not been replaced and a lot ofunnecessary Heras fencing and a large metal shipping container still mar the entrance to thefootpaths. I understand the failure to obey a court order to remove this is currently going tocourt for the second time. Delaying and pushing the limit of the law is the way this owner operates. The council made wise decisions to place a tree preservation order (TPO) on the wood and to removepermitted development rights for the land but I feel these are not enough to ensure no furtherdamage is done. For example the TPO has already been broken twice. The owner has no regard for thelocal residents - in fact he seems to go out of his way to aggravate us at every opportunity - andhis actions over the last 2.5 years have shown total disregard for the rare and endangered plantsand animals that live on his land. It is obvious to me now that the only way to rescue the wood andit's flora and fauna is to make it a LNR as soon as possible.

stevem said...

Avery personal statement from Kate that sums it all up:

I have just walked from the carpark at Snuff Mills with my two dogs. When I reached the river I saw a heron walking down the path in front of me. I stopped and was joined by a family pushing their baby in a pram. We watched the heron and it watched us. We waited quietly until eventually the heron flew over to the Grove Wood side of the river. We watched it for some time as it fished. Then the two older children of the family told me about all the times they had seen kingfishers along this same patch of river. Local children like these are going to be the custodians of Grove Wood in the future.
Unless it is designated a Local Nature Reserve soon Grove Wood will be lost not only to the children of today but to those in the future. It is a duty for us all to preserve this beautiful valley. "

stevem said...

A submission from Sarah:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to express my concern about the future of Grove Wood and to highlight my support for this area to be designated as a local nature reserve. I currently live and work in the local community and am aware of the many important benefits which the wood has for the local and wider community.

As a mental health professional and university lecturer I have become increasingly aware of the connection between physical and mental health and the environment, as advocated by MIND's Green Agenda which recognises the positive benefits of nature and occupation on a persons wellbeing. The growing interest in 'Green Gym' 'Forest Schools' and work with disadvantaged and at risk youth in nature (see 'circle of life rediscovery' for example) serve as a strong testament to the value of access to nature in which we can work and play. As a person who has been involved in facilitating work in nature with young people and adults (e.g. health professionals completing role transition workshops using an transpersonal ecopsychology approach), the value of having natural areas which can support such work is of huge benefit and this should be available within our own city without the need to travel to a 'wilderness' area. Grove Wood, with agreement from all parties, could provide such an opportunity and I would be very willing to contribute to any discussions that look at how this could become a possibility for our community.

During May alone I have been lucky enough to see a Kingfisher (fishing), evidence of Otters from a nearby holt, common and soprano pipistrelle bats, daubentons bats, numerous wildflowers and ancient native trees. I believe that we have a duty to protect these for future generations to enjoy. Seeing the kingfisher and evidence of otters was a very positive experience. I had seen this once in my own childhood, but as a consequence of ecological damage attributed to poor industrial practices it had become sadly all too rare. This indicates the improving health of our rivers and whilst these species are becoming established we should do all we can to protect their habitats and secure our native ecosystems for future generations.

I understand that for a Local Nature Reserve to be declared that certain criteria need to be met for example size and use. I am aware that the application which has been made meets these requirements and I am deeply concerned that this area could be lost.

I sincerely hope that you will look favourably upon the many letters which you will have no doubt had in support of the protection of Grove Woods.

stevem said...

Here's what Geoff has sent in:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I believe that Grove Wood should be declared a Local Nature Reserve for the following reasons. It is approx 14 hectares in size and would be an ideal location for the local schools at Whitefield and Begbrook to participate in nature studies. The present owner seems more intent on destroying the habitat than preserving it. He has made access difficult by erecting fences and still not removed the ugly portakabin which he promised to do some time ago. The wood contains rare species of plants, there is evidence of otters and of kingfishers which I have seen. I have used the wood recreationally for personal walking and also leading walks for the Rambler's Association. It would be wonderful if the council could compulsilory purchase the wood for further generations to enjoy.

stevem said...

Here's one from a very local resident:

Sir
As a local resident with a direct view of Grove Wood, I have been appalled at the wanton desecration of this ancient woodland by the present owner.
I understand that frequent attempts have been made to reason with the owner to little or no avail.
Therefore I think the only safe option, if this ancient woodland is going to be preserved and conserved for future generations, is a compulsory purchase order. This is one of a dwindling number of such woodlands and as such is a valuable resource, habited as it is by rare and beautiful specimens of flora and fauna. The kingfishers and otters are well documented but the woods are home to so much more than these two species. It would be of huge educational value for field studies from junior schools right up to further education and reminds me in many ways of Willsbridge Mill in Longwell Green.
Academia aside, locally it is of immense importance just as a beautiful place in which to walk and take pleasure in.

stevem said...

Here's what Havi says:

for wildlife and public enjoyment.

For a Local Nature Reserve to be declared, Grove Wood will have to fulfill these criteria:
1) It should be more than 2ha in size - it's at least 14ha

2) Capable of being managed with the conservation of nature and/or the maintenance of special opportunities for study, research or enjoyment of nature as the priority concern - it is an ancient woodland that could be managed for wildlife and over a hundred people have written statements to show that they use it for public enjoyment.

To become a LNR the woods should also be either:

a) Of high natural interest in the local context - An ecological report reveals rare plants, protected bats, otters and kingfishers, OR



b) Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for formal education or research or - The Snuff Mills Group are in discussions with the Museum service about a big education project to compare Grove Wood with Snuff Mills to find out why they are so different, there is huge potential educational use in Grove Wood, but this cannot happen while it is in unsympathetic ownership OR


c) Of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public - over 100 people have written evidence statements about their use of Grove Wood for legal sports and past-times as part of our application to have it declared a Town Green.



Since Grove Wood meets all of these criteria, and moreover is used by thousands of people for leisure and sports activities, I would strongly urge the council to declare it a Local Nature Reserve and to consider compulsory purchasing of the woods to secure its future for wildlife and public enjoyment. This would be a big step in securing Bristol's status as a green city and in supporting a healthy lifestyle and appreciation of nature.

stevem said...

Julian and Pat's views:

GROVE WOOD

I understand that you are meeting this week in order to discuss making Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve. My husband and I have resided in this area all are lives so fully support the proposal. We often walked our dog and young son through the wood while he was growing up and it was an education for a young mind, we often saw the kingfisher along the river, and indeed once saw it catch a fish, something we have never forgotten. We feel very strongly that the wood should not have been sold to a developer who has chopped down trees, put up unsightly barriers and sited a portakabin. I appreciate that some of these problems have been addressed, but while the area is in private hands there will always be an issue. It would be a crime to loose any part of this wood as it is so important to keep as much natural habitat as possible for the wildlife and future generations to be able to enjoy this area as we have. Indeed we are now retired, and although we do not have a dog at the moment, we still walk through on our way to Fishponds.

Please make the right decision and make Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve.

stevem said...

And here's Andrew from Stapleton putting across his view pretty clearly:

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like this statement to be put before the Cabinet Committee in advance of its discussions about Grove Wood this week.

I have lived in the Snuff Mills area for a number of years and feel very priviledged to live in such unique and beautiful part of Bristol. Grove Wood is a very special place for rare wildlife and I believe that the only way to protect this ancient woodland is to turn it into a Local Nature Reserve. I walk my dogs through this woodland every day and I am always taken aback by how lucky we are to have such a wonderful woodland so close to the city centre. I regularly see kingfishers, sparrowhawks and hear tawny owls at night calling from the wood. In spring the woodland is full of beautiful wood anemone, bluebells and wild garlic as well as amazing mosses and ferns near the river. I understand that this means the wood is very old indeed.

Many older people tell me of the times they played and built dens in Grove Wood as children and I often bump in to other people who study the wildlife or get away from all the noise and pollution around us in the city. I am very shocked that such a unique area is not already a nature reserve. If it was made one, there can be no doubt local schools and other groups would use it for educational purposes.

I have witnessed the current landowner's behaviour both towards the woodland itself and the local community. I have come to the conclusion that he has no interest in this woodland other than to make money through development or destroying the woods in some other way. He must be brought in to line because he is currently making a mockery of the legal system and treating both City Council staff and the local community with contempt. He must be stopped and a Local Nature Reserve will deal with the problems he causes once and for all. However, his actions show he cannot be trusted and a Compulsory Pirchase Order is really the only option.

Regards

stevem said...

Here's what Helene says (part 1):

I am writing in support of the proposal that Grove Wood should be declared a Local Nature Reserve and the Council should undertake compulsory purchasing of the woods to secure its future for wildlife and public enjoyment.

I have a 7yr old and a 3 yr old child. Last year the most enjoyable day of the summer holidays was, not at a large electronic entertainment venue or artificial play centre, but a day out at a small nature reserve in Knowle with a couple of friends. The children had a fantastic time making up games in the field, observing the animals in and around the pond and picking blackberries. The best part of the day came when it rained - we all hid under the trees, and on finding an old log the kids had a great time building a make-shift bivouwack - the girls put leaves on the floor for a carpet and, predictably, the boys got told off for not wiping their feet! The kids then sat in their den and enjoyed eating the products of their foraging.

Grove Wood would provide a similar environment for children (and their parents) to play in, explore and learn about nature in their own way - much along the lines of the ethos of forest schools. My children always enjoy seeing the different wildlife - including bats, and listening to the different sounds of animals e.g. the variety of birds singing. We also enjoy trying to spot different plants. Such experiences are invaluable for children. Grove Wood is especially important due to its geographical position - providing such opportunites for inner city children coming from locally deprived areas such as Fishponds and Eastville.

Indeed only this week in The Guardian newspaper (05/05/10) Richard Louv talks about his book 'Last Child in the Woods' in which he explores what happens, to individuals and society, when kids stop going out into the natural world to play - "nature deficit disorder". Louv states "kids can grow up fine without nature, but with it there are marked improvements in attention hyperactivity disorder, learning ability, creativity and mental, psychological and spiritual health. When you consider that in some US schools, up to 30% of boys are now on Ritalin. I've lost count of the number of teachers and youth leaders who have told me how different kids become when you get them out into nature. Troublemakers become leaders. Nature is their Ritalin"

stevem said...

And Part 2

It is with these comments in mind that I feel, and I know that I speak representatively for other parents at Begbrook School, that we have a responsibility to ensure that all children are able to access and enjoy nature. Grove Wood would provide such an opportunity for many children in East Bristol.

I would also suggest that, in order to enable families to truely freely enjoy such a nature reserve, the Council should not allow dogs into the reserve. As someone who always had a dog when I was a child I find myself saddened by the fact I am now wary of dogs when out with my children. Unfortunately this is due to the fact there is a small but significant number of dog owners in Bristol who do not control their dogs. Indeed they think it reasonable for dogs to run up and jump up at small children, licking their faces - which can be very frightening for children even if they are familiar with dogs. Such experiences have put me off taking my children to parks. Most recently a large Alsation, in Page Park Staple Hill, ran up to my 3 yr old and her 2 yr old friend, started jumping on them and then started biting their coats - it was extremely frightening. Meanwhile the dog owner stood by and did nothing. It is not just people that suffer as a result of this sort of mismanagement - my neighbour's Great Dane was mauled by a Staffordshire bull terrier in Snuff Mills and needed 30 stitches.

It is well documented in the 'Bristol Weight Strategy' and the 'Bristol Physical Strategy' that young families avoid going to parks because of poorly managed dogs and I really hope that the Council will consider this aspect. Moreover, a considerable number of dog owners still do not remove their dogs' faeces in public areas - which poses a health risk for all.

I sincerely hope that the Council will agree that giving Grove Wood 'local nature reserve' designation would provide an invaluable contribution to the local community ensuring that the wood is managed for wildlife, public enjoyment and educational use - not just for now but for generations to come.

stevem said...

From Sandra and Ken:

As a local couple who have used Grove Wood, Snuff Mills and Vassals park for many, many years, we urge you to save Grove Wood from any form of developement and designate it as a Local Nature Reserve.

A place where we have seen kingfishers, herons, bats and owls - to think of this falling into the hands of someone whose motives might just be financial, either now or in the future would be regretable in the extreme. It's a bit like the schools playing fields - once they are gone....they are gone and there is no going back!

We believe the area satisfies all or most of the criteria required to become a Local Nature Reserve....so come on Bristol City Council, do the right thing!

Martyn said...

Here is my statement:

Dear Cabinet Members,

Please support the recommendation to declare Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve, with or without the support of the current landowner. The petition of 1,110 signatories who called for a Compulsory Purchase Order indicates the level of support from people within and beyond this county though a great many more have a personal stake in this area.

Grove Wood comprises over fourteen hectares of ancient woodland that provides a beautiful environment to observe and enjoy nature and wildlife. Whilst it is well known for its kingfishers, bats and otters this particular stretch of riverside woodland is one of the best examples of the many natural gorges that define the character of this county. As a site of nature conservation importance it can no longer be left to further risk and requires a professional management. The area must be preserved for future generations or we could see the loss of important species such as the Wood Anemone, a true wildflower that grows in abundance here.

If Local Nature Reserve status is granted, please ensure the woodland is not ruined through being absorbed into the wider estate and that the wild environment is properly maintained in order to sustain the present wildlife species. In making your decision, please remember the numerous occasions the current landowner has endangered wildlife and caused distress to the local community.

andy-s said...

I've made a list of just some of the species of animals & plants that have been seen and identified within Grove Wood and the River Frome that runs alongside it. This is by no means an exhaustive list but indicates just how rich the wildlife is there and how it needs to be protected. I'm sure I've omitted many species but here it is...

Birds:
Blackbird
Blackcap
Blue tit
Buzzard
Chiffchaff
Coal tit
Collared dove
Coot
Cormorant
Crow
Dipper
Dunnock
Goldcrest
Great spotted woodpecker
Great tit
Green woodpecker
Grey wagtail
Heron
Jay
Kingfisher
Long tailed tit
Magpie
Mallard
Moorhen
Pied wagtail
Raven
Robin
Sandpiper
Siskin
Sparrowhawk
Tawny owl
Treecreeper
Willow warbler
Wood pigeon
Wren

Mammals:
Badger
Daubenton's bat
Field mouse
Field vole
Fox
Muntjac deer
Otter
Pipistrelle bat
Rat
Roe deer
Squirrel


Fish/aquatic:
Bream
Brown trout
Bullhead
Chub
Dace
Eel
Frog
Gudgeon
Minnow
Pike
Roach
Rudd
Stickleback
Stone loach
Toad
White clawed crayfish

Plants:
Too many to list completely but including
Ash
Blackthorn
Bluebell
Bramble
Buttercup
Campion
Dog Rose
Elm
Great Woodrush
Hawthorn
Hazel
Holly
Horse Chestnut
Ivy
Lime
Nettle
Ransoms (Wild Garlic)
Sessile Oak
Sycamore
Wild Service Trees
Various Ferns
Willow
Wood Anemone
and also several nationally scarce species.

Insects:
Too many to list but including many butterflies, moths, bumble bees, beetles and a wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies.

sued said...

Here's my statement to add to the pile...

Dear Bristol Cabinet
I will be unable to attend the meeting on Thursday, but please find my thoughts on the matter below.
Grove Wood is an area I first was introduced to around 1981, when a friend showed me the walk along the top footpath, overlooking the weir by Halfpenny Bridge. I was struck at the time, and continue to be delighted and grateful, that such a beautiful place is located so close to the city.
Not only does the wood afford impressive views across the Frome, particularly at the highest level, it also contains wildlife in abundance, with all that this entails.
I regularly walk my dog through the wood, and have done so for many years, and have been fortunate enough to observe a stunning variety of flora and fauna, with seasonal changes that are a constant pleasure to see.
Despite its close proximity to Snuff Mills, the wood, due in large part to laissez faire management by previous owners (excluding the present owner), has an entirely different ambience. Grove Wood is not prettified or made accessible to buggies. It does not have toilets, cafes, gardens or any of the other things that would render it indistinguishable from other parks. It is really quite wild. This makes it unique in the city and attractive to a variety of birds, animals and plants which are far less frequently seen in the nearby parkland.
I have myself seen deer, buzzard, kingfisher, various species of bat and tawny owls there. This is with very little expertise in watching wildlife, and without really trying.
This difference which separates Grove Wood in character from nearby parkland, makes it ideal for a Local Nature Reserve, which can be used to maintain and enhance its character and value for wildlife and people, for recreation and educational purposes.
There is now a considerable amount of evidence supporting the delicate nature and value of the wood from an ecological and recreational perspective, which will have been submitted elsewhere. I know many people have submitted evidence to support applications for footpath adoption and Town Green status, demonstrating the high value accorded the wood locally.
The continued quality of Grove Wood as a valuable asset to the city is entirely dependent on its protection from thoughtless and insensitive management, such as has been seen in the last two years or so. Indiscriminate use of chainsaws, the erection of ugly and pointless fencing, and the introduction of a similarly ugly and pointless shipping container, have amply demonstrated how easy it is to degrade such an environment in a very short space of time.
I trust the councillors responsible will arrive at the right decision with regard to declaring Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve, since only then can we begin to have confidence it will not be lost forever.

Abbie said...

Dear BCC Cabinet members,

I am writing regarding Grove Wood, near Snuff Mills. The area is beautiful and a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of city life where you can spot many rare plants, birds and bats as well as walk, picnic and ride.

As a child I often played in the area and learnt a lot about the environment and nature and from these positive experiences my brother was inspired to become a gardener and takes a great deal of interest in local ecology.

I am a leader of a local brownie group; we often use Snuff Mills as a place to look at plants, water and animals for our badges. As a leader of a group in a deprived area the availability of this free local resource is invaluable to us. The possibility of extending this as an educational facility through the declaration of a Local Nature Reserve would be excellent for many groups and families throughout the area and we would always support and fully utilise the area.

Also personally I often enjoy walking at Snuff Mills and we believe that declaring Grove Wood as a Local Nature Reserve would improve the conservation of the area, as local wildlife could be better monitored and protected.

The Snuff Mills Action group are excellent and are very contentious, passionate and dedicated to the preservation of this area, rewarding their efforts by declaring Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve would be inspiring to the local communities.

I urge you to give this issue careful consideration and appreciate the added value to the local environment and local people.

Many Thanks,

stevem said...
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stevem said...

Clair from Fishponds says:

I am writing in support of the campaign to preserve Grove Wood as a local nature reserve, which I understand the council will be debating this Thursday.

I am a resident of Fishponds and my family visit the Oldbury Court Estate including Grove Wood frequently. My partner, his father and grandfather all have enjoyed the woodland throughout their lives and I am keen that it remains a natural site for my son to enjoy in the future for both the wildlife (some of which are protected species such as the bats) and as a space to escape busy city life. I whole-heartedly believe that natural spaces are essential to our wellbeing. It is a great opportunity to preserve one of the city's fantastic green spaces so children can use it as part of their educational development.

I urge the council to consider a local nature reserve status for Grove Wood and look forward to a positive decision for the community and the woodland

Best wishes
Clair

stevem said...

Jenny from Fishponds has added her voice to the campaign:

Dear Cabinet Members

I would like to add my voice to all those who have pleaded for Grove Wood to be given local nature reserve designation. I live at the College Court flats and regularly do a circular walk around Grove Wood and Snuff Mills. The peace and tranquility in this woodland is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle and the noisy environment of Fishponds. I grew up in the area and as a child enjoyed playing in these woods. Please ensure that this woodland is kept for future generations to enjoy.

Thank you.

Jenny

stevem said...

And one from a local hero:

Re: Consideration of Grove Wood as a Local Nature Reserve

Dear Sir/Madam

I understand that Bristol City Council’s Cabinet will be meeting at 4pm on Thursday next, 10th June, to consider whether Grove Wood should be declared a Local Nature Reserve and whether compulsory powers should be used to purchase the woods to secure the future for wildlife and public enjoyment, if (as has been evidenced) the landowner is not prepared to work with the Council to manage the woods properly.

As one who has had the pleasure of living all my life (over 77 years) in the Fishponds/Frenchay area, I, like many of my contemporaries, have spent a huge portion of my time in Vassalls Park/Oldbury Court/Snuff Mills/Grove Woods. It is an area of great beauty with an abundance of wildlife and it provides countless hours of fun/pleasure/enjoyment/relaxation for numerous people and families who visit for a huge variety of reasons.

Many of us have been concerned over the problems that have arisen since the current owners took possession of Grove Wood, and it would appear that there are no positive signs that our fears for the well being of the woods, with its precious wildlife, will be allayed in the foreseeable future.

We are extremely fortunate that the campaigners to save Grove Wood have taken such a keen interest in the area and a visit to their website will give an indication of the enormous efforts they have made to retain and, indeed, to enhance, the whole area. They have acted with the utmost integrity and are to be applauded for the invaluable service they are providing.

I trust that your Members will be minded to officially declare Grove Wood to be a Local Nature Reserve, and also agree to impose a Compulsory Purchase Order. By so doing the Members of Bristol City Council’s Cabinet will be recognising and supporting all that is being done (and will continue to be done) to safeguard Grove Wood, that future generations will be afforded the same privileges that we have enjoyed.

Yours sincerely

Robert (Bob) N Woodward LL D

Hon Freeman of The City and County of Bristol

stevem said...

From Frome Vale Councillors

Grove Woods

We write to support the recommendations in the Report of Graham Sims, Strategic Director – Neighbourhoods that the Council seek to enter into an agreement with the landowner of Grove Wood to declare and manage the site as a Local Nature Reserve in consultation with Natural England or if this is not possible to achieve to make a Compulsory purchase order to acquire the site for this purpose.

Grove Wood is an ancient woodland and a site of special wildlife interest in the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation Area, it is a beautiful wild spot with a wealth of wildlife including kingfishers, otters, bats etc and some rare plants. There is a public right of way along the river bank and a second long established path which is an ancient route from Fishponds to Stapleton Church and the public has had unfettered access for very many years until the current owner purchased it. It is very popular with residents from all over the city and beyond.

The present owner acquired the site in early 2008 and since then has caused a lot of concern among local residents about his management of the site as he has removed trees without obtaining planning consent, done inappropriate works in the nesting and breeding season, desecrated the appearance with an unsightly portakabin and Herras fencing and intimidated people to stop them using the public right of way.

Snuff Mills Action Group have been very vigilant in trying to protect this wonderful space and have been instrumental in getting the Council to remove permitted development rights and to impose a woodland Tree Preservation Order, without their persistance Grove Wood would have been lost for ever. The owner has continually ignored the advice and guidance given by the Council in spite of being advised of the legal requirements of a woodland TPO and a conservation area and persisted in destructive actions whilst also not undertaking the works that he should have done at the correct season. His first clearance of trees and the formation of the bund drove the kingfishers and otters away and now that they have cautiously returned he still attempts to frighten them off on occasion by strimming on the river bank during the breeding season.

We therefore ask you to support this report and authorise the recommendations so that these important woodlands are kept intact for everyone now and in the future.

Lesley Alexander and James Stevenson
Ward Councillors for Frome Vale

stevem said...

Support from another Local Nature Reserve:

Friends of Troopers Hill are a community group who carry out conservation work on the Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve and who have obtained over £46,000 of grants in 6 years to support projects to enhance this council owned site. As chair of that community group, I strongly support the compulsory purchase of Grove Woods and the declaration of the woods as a Local Nature Reserve.

Local Nature Reserve status conveys a level of protection to any site thus designated. It also means that funding organisations have an added level of long term security for their investment and are more likely to release funds for projects associated with Local Nature Reserves. An energetic community group working in partnership with Bristol City Council can secure funds that would not otherwise be available to the Council. In the case of Troopers Hill that style of partnership has led to 3 Green Flags being awarded to the site due to the quality of the site and the way it is managed. Grove Woods is the focus of an active community group, Snuff Mills Action Group. The opportunity to repeat the success story of Troopers Hill and to increase Bristol people’s access to green space is one not to be missed.

Susan Acton-Campbell

Friends of Troopers Hill

stevem said...

From Grove Wood's MP
To Whom It May Concern,

As local MP for the area, I am writing to you in support of compulsory purchasing Grove Wood in order to make it into a Local Nature Reserve. Grove Wood is an essential asset to the local community and one that is much loved by all that use it.

I understand that Grove Wood fulfils the necessary criterion by being above required size and also by being a place enjoyed by many of my constituents who benefit from the wildlife and varied nature that exists there.

The strength of support for this movement also proves that is it is highly valued “in the local context for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public”.

Declaring Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve would guarantee its protection, something badly needed to ensure that local residents and visitors can continue to enjoy it for the foreseeable future. I strongly urge you to listen to local peoples’ concerns.

Yours sincerely

Kerry McCarthy
Labour MP for Bristol East

stevem said...

And from Carol

Dear Sir or Madam,

I live in Kingswood but grew up in Fishponds and have been visiting and enjoying the Frome Valley – including Grove Wood for the last 30 years.

Of course I was concerned when I learnt a few years ago that Grove Wood had been sold and was in unsympathetic ownership, it is an ancient woodland that could be managed for wildlife and many people use it for public enjoyment.

An ecological report also reveals rare plants, protected bats, otters and kingfishers all reside in Grove Wood (I have personally seen a kingfisher there) and I believe that it is imperative that this natural treasure be removed from it’s unsympathetic ownership and that it is protected in the interest of all.

I therefore request that Grove wood is compulsorily purchased from it’s current owner and that it is made a local nature reserve.

I look forward to hearing the outcome of this Thursday’s meeting.

Many thanks and regards,

Carol

stevem said...

Here's Natalie's - just in time:

I'm writing with reference to Grove Wood, Stapleton, Bristol.

To date, the current owner has made no attempt to sympathetically manage the wood and I fear that without compulsory purchase, we will lose this vital habitat which should be enjoyed by future generations. There were many signatories on our petition requesting that BCC take ownership; I trust you will see fit to do this.

Making Grove Wood a Local Nature Reserve will not only protect the wood but will serve as a valuable tool for educational purposes and to give the greater community an understanding of this valuable inner city woodland.

I've walked in Grove Wood many times, enjoying picnics and the like. For the last couple of years though, I have found it increasingly frustrating to be greeted with Heras fencing and a portacabin and being made to feel not welcome, (even on the public right of way).

Please can BCC do anything in its power to protect this beautiful and Ancient Woodland?

Kind regards, Natalie

stevem said...

And one from Fishponds resident Sonia:

Dear Members I am delighted to hear that Bristol City Council is considering designating Grove Wood as a nature reserve. I was astonished when I discovered that it was not part of Snuff Mills Park. I have seen kingfishers and many other birds there, in fact I saw my first kingfisher there. The chopping of the trees and the eyesore of a tin shack which blighted the area for such a long time distressed many local people and others who visit this extraordinarily beautiful place. I urge the Council to take the land into public ownership to ensure that the both sides of the river can be sensitively managed in order to preserve the wonderful plants and wildlife and ensure it will still be there to be loved by future generations. Sonia

Hil and Rich said...

This is our message sent to the Council yesterday:

We live near Grove Wood and would like to support the recommendation that Grove Wood should become a Local Nature Reserve to be discussed by Bristol City Council, this Thursday, 10th June (Item 9 on the Agenda).

We have lived in the Stapleton for twenty years and have always valued the richness of wildlife in the woods. However, through membership of the Snuff Mills Action Group, we have learnt even more about the diversity of wildlife in this small wood. All this the more remarkable in view of how close it lies to the city centre of Bristol – England's sixth most populated city.

We have witnessed the woods’ recent changes in private owners and can testify at how threatened its future lies with its present owner. We witnessed the cutting down of live trees, throwing up the ugly embankment along the riverside and attempted restrictions to public access. We have no confidence in this owner’s continued control of the woods and despite recent success establishing a TPO over it, feel that only by making Grove Wood an Urban Nature Reserve do we think it can hopefully be safeguard in the future. We are aware of the similar local precedence for this by the creation of the Royate Hill Nature Reserve (near Greenbank Cemetery) in the 1990s, following a compulsory purchase order made by the former Avon County Council.

Hilary & Richard of Stapleton

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