Our first woodland rejuvenation “big weekend” at Stansfeld Park

Steve Burgess, the Trust’s CEO, and his wife joined OCV (or Oxford Conservation Volunteers) to carry out some important – and back-breaking – conservation in the woodland at Stansfeld Park – the site of our new science education centre and innovation centre.

The May Bank Holiday saw our first woodland rejuvenation ‘big weekend’ as friends from OCV were joined by members of the local community and Trust staff and trustees for two days of hauling, building and digging.

We focused on the much-neglected areas to the north of the 18-acre site, where the woodland’s main trail passes over a small gully that often floods and is always muddy. The previous boardwalk was rotten and so in a  dangerous condition.

Our merry band of workers, aged from about 5 years-old to – well that would be telling – set about dismantling the old boardwalk structure and, under the expert guidance of OCV’s Chris and Phil, installing a completely new section that will be safe to use for many years to come.

The work took many hours and it was hard graft: bringing in supplies from the main site by hand, digging out and banging in new posts, accurately laying decking and installing new handrails. Reclaimed wood from elsewhere on the site was used to repair the boardwalk steps so that this part of the woodland trail network is now back in service.

There was one other challenge for the weekend – Pendulous Sedge – the mere mentioning of its name brings grown men to tears!

This rather beautiful plant likes the Stansfeld woodland’s clay soil so much that it has completely invaded the site, to the detriment of other species. The only way to control the sedge is hard manual labour with a mattock and iron bar – back-breaking work as our Chair of Trustees found out – but it’s essential to allow other native plants to re-establish themselves.

Our site has huge potential but we can only realise this by working with committed groups such as OCV. Many thanks to the core team from OCV and the many other volunteers who joined us over the two days. We really appreciate your help. Now can someone tell me where to buy Radox in bulk! Look out for more woodland restoration days with OCV soon.