Glassdrummond Community Woodland and Wildlife Safari
Update published on: August 27, 2017
Standing next to St Brigid’s church in Glassdrummond, a little plantation woodland had become a dark dank and litter strewn eyesore, but even 10 years ago the local Parish Priest could see the potential of Glassdrummond wood as a community resource. Father King then worked doggedly to find funding and community buy-in to improve the forest. With the aid of the AONB officer, a successful application was made to the Challenge Fund to create a footpath and access into the wood in 2015.
Once access was improved the Landscape Partnership worked with the primary school and a number of local people to set up a properly constituted community group who were able to negotiate a Permissive Path Agreement with the church which enabled Outdoor Recreation NI to class the route as a quality short walk.
Work over the following year with the community volunteers consisted of improving the biodiversity of the woodland by removing invasive cherry laurel, clearing undergrowth and removing at least two skip fulls of rubbish. Over the winter a training course in hedge-laying created a traditional beautifully laid hedge around part of the site. In February a tree surgeon removed a number of large spruce trees to open areas of the wood and let the light into the forest floor. We were delighted to find bluebells, wild violets and wild raspberries all sprouting where dark shade had previously prevented growth.
Plans were hatched at a series of workshops with the primary school for the features that the children wanted to see in the woodland and a fabulous “Day in the Woods” event led by Celia Spouncer and David Thompson also acted as a catalyst for ideas. David also wrote a 10-year Biodiversity Management Plan for the wood after consulting with the community.
In July the Youth Rangers created a dead hedge around an old quarry to keep safe the edges of what was to be the future outdoor classroom and started to build a “secret path” into the depths of the wood for the childrens’ games.
The next stage of work was carried out by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) who created all the infrastructure of the outdoor classroom, built some 5-star insect hotels, cleared out some rain-fed ponds, and enlarged a series of ditches to create a pond- dipping zone. A picnic site and Den zone has also been created featuring a lovely willow sculpture teepee.
The woodland was formally opened on 27th August at a community picnic and over 80 people attended taking part in a huge range of wildlife activities and listening to a story teller.
Work to further improve the biodiversity of the wood will continue over the coming winter