Hart DC cut and slash – does it conflict with new Biodiversity Action Plan?

My husband photographing insects in the field West of the Red Cross Centre in Yateley 30th June 2012

Previously I have written about my delight in the fields adjacent to the Red Cross Centre in Yateley, that have been left this summer to grow long, and rich in flowers and insect life. Until yesterday that is!

Today, I found the long lush field utterly flat, and totally silent, devoid of all those flowers and insects. Not a butterfly, ladybird or grasshopper to be seen or heard. Rough mowed in yesterdays rain (from what I could tell) the cut grass lies like a hard crust across the field. In addition, a slasher has been taken to the trees around the field, including to the beautiful Bhutan Pine with the bluey-purple cones. As far as I can tell, these trees (which also include the Cherry and Oak in that line of planting) were not in anyone’s way.

The same field 17th July 2012.

As a regular user of the site I am keenly aware of how it is used, and I am not for a moment suggesting that all three fields are never mown. The two fields behind the Red Cross Centre, are regularly used by organised and recreational groups of families and children from the local community for all sorts of fun and games, as well as by local dog walkers. I can understand that these need reasonably regular grass cutting to maintain their attraction to users.

The field to the West of the centre and Monteagle House (nearer The Highwayman pub) doesn’t get such use however, really being nothing more than a thoroughfare for people, including many dogwalkers like myself.

Beauty (and a feeding place) to be found in a simple Hawkbit flower

Here (by eye rather than detailed survey) is the richest diversity of flower and grass species, which this year has proved (if left) can attract a whole bunch of insects. Surely with a little thought by those involved in Grounds Maintainance perhaps by talking with their colleagues in Countryside Services, here is an opportunity to take a tiny step towards fulfulling in a small, but important way, the aims of Hart District Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan which it seems to be launching this year. I have no idea if this little field fits Section 4.2 of that plan, but surely it could be an example of what will hopefully be done in more out of the way areas of the District?

How’s this for an idea that takes consideration of the field’s obvious use AND biodiversity value:

  1. The fresh (and rescued from the slashings) cones of the Bhutan Pine, alongside those dried, fallen and collected from a previous season.

    Rather than mowing the whole field, cut 3-4 single stips in the grass along the well developed natural pathways that people use the most, and leave the rest of the grass long for the duration of the summer.

  2. Rather than slashing the trees around the field, prune (not slash, which can cause rot and infection) only those that overhang the pathways through to the Red Cross Centre and Throgmorton Road areas (which noticably HAVEN’T been slashed this week!)

It only takes a little thought, and though I happily pay Council Tax for my bins to be collected etc, it would be nice to feel I was paying my District Council to THINK in a connected and joined up way about Biodiversity as well.

Postscript 18th July 2012: 

Three lots of swift and helpful feedback from local councillors: Apparently

“The land has recently been transferred to the Town Council although the ground maintenance is still, for a period of time, being carried out by contractors following a contract that was specified by Hart some time ago. 
Now that the land us the responsibility of the Town Council… a review will be undertaken as to what we want moving forward. Your comments will be useful as part of the review along with input from other users of the land so that the right balance can be achieved.
 I am aware that the land immediately adjacent to the Scout Hall is used for a wide range of activities which this week includes a pre school play group sports day. As your blog suggests there are other parts of the land that is not currently used as widely.”
another that said…
… appalled at the severity of the slashing that took place. I will ensure that the matter is raised for awareness at full council on Monday, in order that subsequent measures can take place to prevent any re-occurence…
but also a different view that suggest that some miss noticing the specifics I raise, and miss the point for a need for balance in biodiversity ‘v’ usage issues:
“I have been getting –mails and phone calls about the grass being too long.  The children couldn’t play in it and the dog walkers kept losing their balls.
I was up there yesterday and the weeding was being done by the  contractors  I didn’t see anything about un necessary cutting back.  Yateley Town Council will be taking this area over hopefully on the 1st August and they will have their own contactors.  I have passed your e-mail on to the Town Clerk who is due to meet with Hart this week.”



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