June 2014 - There have been several reports of a heavy

infestation of ticks and horse flies and one dog that has

suffered a adder bite, take care if you walk on the downs at

the moment.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust Survey of Golant Downs.

Golant Downs (The Common) covers an area of roughly 27 acres and is part of a designated Cornwall County Wildlife Site. Following a request to the Parish Council from a Parishioner and Commoner to plant 200 or so trees on the Downs, I contacted the County Natural Environment Officer for advice on tree selection and planting. He in turn referred me to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, a charitable organisation constituted to encourage conservation of wildlife and who can provide advice to landowners on best practice in such matters, particularly within the County Wildlife Sites. Consequently on the 24th May, Sue Hocking, their Conservation Officer visited the Downs to carry out a review. Recently she submitted her report, which runs to three closely-typed pages, which I will try to précis, - “Traditionally the area was open rough pasture used for grazing cattle, and gathering bracken, gorse and coppice wood for fuel. However with cessation of these traditional uses over the last 40 to 50 years the area has been scrubbing over and more mature trees are becoming established. Hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, spindle, holly, willow, ash, oak, cherry, beech and sycamore are seeding into this and regenerating naturally.” There are also some survivors of and earlier planting scheme, notably Field and Norway Maples and Larch. Apart from these shrubs and trees the report notes about 25 species of ground flora, including bracken and bramble, the latter two becoming dominant and now covering large areas. “Local residents value their views of the estuary and the spring primroses so would like to maintain a more open nature to the parts of the site adjacent to and below the footpath.” (Saints Way). “As an overall vision for the site”, the writer says,” I would suggest aiming for a mix of smaller clumps and larger areas of trees and scrub within the bracken. I would suggest that rather than clearing existing scrub, to concentrate on limiting further spread.” The report points out that a wider variety of habitat will encourage a wider range of wildlife, so that we should manage the scrub to achieve this, open up areas to provide hunting habitat for Barn Owls for instance. One way to achieve this would be to widen existing paths and to create new paths and glades. But it is important to only undertake scrub clearance outside the bird nesting season, which in Cornwall runs from March to September. “It is generally best to let natural regeneration proceed, as at present, with shrubs gradually taking over from the bracken, and trees seeding in from surrounding areas. The native woodland for this area would be estuarine oak (Sessile Oak) with ash in the damper areas. However due to the presence of non-native, somewhat invasive species, such as sycamore, beech and conifers, a natural outcome would not result.” So the report suggests replanting with native shrubs and trees, sourced locally, which include most of the species already present, Sessile Oak particularly, and adding Alder Buckthorn, Rowan (Mountain Ash), Downy Birch, Silver Birch, Grey Willow, Eared Willow and Guelder Rose. “Some intervention will be desirable to selectively remove sycamore and beech (saplings) to favour native broadleaved trees.” “There is no particularly important area on site to avoid when planting trees. Your only constraints will be your wish to maintain views of the river.” We are grateful to the Cornish Wildlife Trust for this report, a full copy of which will be posted on the Golant.net website under the ‘Golant Downs’ tab. Stuart Young July 2011.

Golant Downs

The complete report follows:

GOLANT DOWN, NR. FOWEY. VISITED ON 24TH MAY 2011. The Down is part of the Colvithick Wood and Penpoll Creek CWS (R/CN4.2). BACKGROUND. An area of Common Land covering some 13.5ha, which was historically open rough pasture/heath/moor used for grazing cattle and gathering bracken, gorse and coppice wood for fuel. The tithe map (1836-1846) shows the area as open land as does the 1962 OS map. However, with cessation of these traditional uses 40 or 50 years ago, the area has been scrubbing over and more mature trees are becoming established. In more recent times there has been some tree planting (in 1981). Norway maple, field maple, oak and ash, larch, Scot’s pine and sweet chestnut have been planted in various parts of the site. Subsequent burning killed some of the planted trees. There has been some selective coppicing or removal of lower branches on some trees to maintain views from the footpath and seating areas. A parishioner has recently offered to plant approx. 200 trees and the Parish Council Tree Warden has sought Colin Hawke’s advice on suitable species. Colin advised that the area is within a CWS so CWT advice was subsequently sought. Local residents value their views of the estuary and spring primroses so would like to maintain a more open nature to the parts of the site adjacent to and below the footpath. BRIEF SPECIES NOTES RECORDED ON WALK THROUGH THE SITE. A small area of woodland at the northern end of the site has areas of hazel coppice, blackthorn, ash, oak, sycamore, hawthorn, grey willow, apple, European gorse and planted Norway maple and beech. The ground flora includes: Allium ursinum Fragaria vesca Hedera hibernica Hyacinthoides non-scripta Primula vulgaris Rubus fruticosus agg. The majority of the rest of the north-south trending part of the site is dominated by bracken, beneath which a bluebell flora is visible in spring. Angelica sylvestris Arctium minus Asplenium scolopendrium Chamerion angustifolium Cirsium palustre Digitalis purpurea Epilobium hirsutum Festuca rubra Galium aparine Geum urbanum Hedera hibernica Heracleum sphondylium Hyacinthoides non-scripta Pteridium aquilinum Rubus fruticosus agg. Rumex acetosa Silene dioica Solanum dulcamara Stachys sylvatica Tamus communis Teucrium scorodonia Hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, spindle, holly, willow, ash, oak, cherry and sycamore are seeding into this and regenerating naturally. More mature trees and scrub occupy the lower slope adjacent to the estuary. The east west trending part of the site is similar but here re-colonisation is more advanced and the scrub is dominant. Wood garlic Wild strawberry Irish ivy Bluebell Primrose Bramble Wild angelica Lesser Burdock Hart’s-tongue fern Rosebay Marsh thistle Foxglove Great willowherb Red fescue Cleavers Wood avens Irish ivy Hogweed Bluebell Bracken Bramble Common sorrel Red campion Bittersweet Wood woundwort Black bryony Wood sage MANAGEMENT A mix of habitats is generally best for wildlife as it provides niches for the greatest variety of species. As an overall vision for the site I would suggest aiming for a mix of smaller clumps and larger areas of trees and scrub within the bracken. I would suggest that rather than clearing existing scrub concentrate on limiting further spread. SCRUB Scrub management should concentrate on creating a mosaic of habitats in order to benefit the greatest range of wildlife by providing:
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