Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Over the past year or so, throughout our local area of Shipley Park, there has been the worrying sound of chain saws cutting through the trees and seemingly destroying a huge area of woodland.  The area in question has been referred to by me in the past as the old West Hallam Colliery site.  During the very wet winter, while it has been too muddy to walk along those footpaths, we have been disturbed by the noise of trees being felled and timber being taken away.
The area has a lot of history, from the first coal mines being dug in the late 1700's, until the last mine closing in 1930.  Iron workings started in the area in the 1800's and by the 1940's, the area was being used as a coal disposal site, serving the local open-cast mines.  All of which carried on until the 1980's.  Since that time, the soils have been stripped and the area was left completely bare while nature slowly took over.  A couple of years ago, it had become this...
This morning, following some much better and dryer weather, we were once again, able to have a walk along these paths, so we thought we would go and see what the damage was.  Looking along the same path as that above, the view today looked more like this...
Huge piles of felled wood and vast amounts of cut, scrubby brash were dotted along the paths...
But, all is not as bad as we had thought.  It had been my fear, that the area was being cleared of its trees, ready for developers to move in and begin building (there have been proposals for building housing estates close by, for some time).  However, a quick read of an information board which has now been erected at one end of the site, allayed our fears.  The whole site has been taken over and managed by Natural England, The Forestry Commission, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation, to protect and enhance the species and habitats present on the site.  Indeed, thousands of new Hawthorn bushes have been planted along newly erected fences.
The whole area has been 'opened up' to make it a more attractive place for our butterflies and plants.  Dingy Skippers and Small Heath Butterflies are among the 23 or more species of butterflies which will benefit from all this work, as well as over 130 different species of flowering plants, mosses and lichens.
So, what we had feared was to be a scene of destruction and utter devastation, has turned out to be a most fantastic opportunity for making our local nature reserve, a far better and more naturally-diverse place.  We will keep watching!
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