Conservation Group

EARLES MEADOW CONSERVATION GROUP

REPORT OF THE EARLES MEADOW CONSERVATION GROUP TO THE EARLES MEADOW RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION FOR ITS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 16th MARCH 2016

The aims and objectives of the Group are: “To work with the North Horsham Parish Council (landowner) in maintaining the land as an area of Open Space accessible by the Public for their enjoyment and recreation whilst protecting, preserving and improving the natural environment – to learn and to educate.”

The site comprises approximately 13 acres of parkland, meadows and woodland with the streams. Currently the Group confines itself to the meadows and woodland of about 10 acres. There are currently 18 Members of the Group of which a pool of 9 regularly work on the site with an average attendance of 5 per session. During the past year the Group has undertaken 37 project days which equates to over 500 project hours. The total number of project hours completed since the Group started in 2010 now exceeds 2,250.

This has been an unexpected but very welcomed award winning year for the Group with recognition of the excellent work of the volunteers, endorsement of the quality of their work and substantial lifting of the Group’s profile.

For the second consecutive year it attained Level 5 “Outstanding” from the RHS’  “It’s Your Neighbourhood”.  Its first time entry in the South & South-East in Bloom’s “Conservation Area of the Year” resulted in a Silver Gilt Award and to end the year, Horsham in Bloom honoured the Group  with the Community Project of the Year Gold Award. Not bad for a five year old!

Routine Work: Much of the work this year has been in maintaining and improving areas worked on in previous years. Paths beside the streams have been widened to protect the flora on the banks, pathways around the meadows have been kept mown with brambles “pruned” back, the new seat donated by Cllr Alan Britten was installed in the Lower Meadow, controlled thinning of the over-planted trees has continued and a substantial area cleared of bramble to open up the woodland and the site for an outdoor classroom.

Some horticultural projects included planting 500 English Bluebells and an Alder Buckthorn, limited introduction of Cowslip, Teasel and Yellow Rattle and pruning of several substantial rose bushes.

Throughout this wet Winter access has been maintained by imaginative use of pallets to extend the board-walks and vast quantities of hay, previously raked from the meadows and stored, have been used on the muddiest areas.

Gorse Hill Project: The Group’s work has been rewarded by an excellent display of yellow and all of the bushes that had been hard-pruned are thriving. Work continues on this area to get more light onto the Hill to increase the variety of wildflowers.

Bluebell Project: As a result of the clearing work the existing Bluebells are coming through stronger and the planted bulbs are beginning to show. In 2-3 years there should be a good display.

Streamside Project: The reduction in the flow of the stream in the Summer meant that plans to develop this site have been put on hold although the area has been kept clear and still provides an attractive oasis.

Haymaking Project: Although an additional 7 hay-rakes were made in preparation for removing the hay the work was severely hampered by the poor cutting which set back plans to improve the quality of the meadows.

Scarecrow Event: Much additional preparation of the site was necessary for this event using domestic mowers and despite active promotion, additional “attractions” of live music, bookstall, cake stall and refreshments plus a beautiful day, this event was not as well supported as last year’s. 

Narcissus Project: After the efforts of additional planting last year to make up for bulbs affected by the new street lighting works, the early cutting of the plants by the Groundsmen may well have resulted in the poorer display this year.

Little Park Project: EMRA has now taken on-board furthering this Project.

Nature Trails Project: The Groups most ambitious nature trail yet was organised for the EMRA Summer Barbecue and by popular demand, from the general public it was left up for a further two weeks after the event.

Recording Flora and Fauna Project: The Group is in its fourth year of recording the wild flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses and ferns.  Additional different varieties of flora are being identified each year. In addition birds, butterflies, moths and fauna are being recorded and the first Earles Meadow Garden Bird-watch was held over the Summer.

Photographic Competition Project: In its second year and the Judge commented “The entries this year show an encouraging improvement over last year with a stronger sense of composition and greater imagination on display”?.  This competition looks set to continue..

Community Projects: The Group helped launch and continues to support the Little Park Project. It has built up a good relationship with the local Guide and Brownie Groups in encouraging use of the Open Space for their activities. It has held an inaugural EMCG Juniors Session, introducing the young children of its Members to an understanding, and the importance, of the natural environment. It is hoped to develop these initiatives on the basis that the youth of today will be the future custodians of our countryside.

Support of the Aims and Objectives of the Groups work is vital either by volunteering just a few hours of your valuable time to help or if that is not possible then by small monetary donations to enable us to purchase and maintain tools and to assist in materials for our projects.

Robert Brown – Group Leader                           15/03/16