The Clophill Centre
Written by: Alex Greaves
We have Created a Native Wildflower Meadow:- 2,700m2 wildflower meadow converted from grassland.
We have created better ecotone between the field and woods. Planted & seeded wildflowers in order to increase the biodiversity within the woodland and allow more fodder for insects and pollinators.
We have planted more within the lower canopy layer to improve biodiversity and habitat.
Pollarded & veteranised poplars in order to create bat and bird habitat & increase safety around ride.
Widened rides to create amenity interest and allow more light to under-storey to enable wildflowers and smaller shrubs to flourish.
Hedgerows :- Hedge layed a section of Southern boundary to thicken hedge & increase habitat. Planted extensively on the western boundary to create a wildflower corridor to enable wildlife safe passage through the land. Lifted canopy of some of the trees to enable healthy hedge growth.
We have had several volunteer days in order to get people involved and learn a little of the native flora and fauna and how to manage the land successfully. We are continuing to monitor the impact of these actions in an ongoing management plan to continue evolving.
A better managed woodland with a more diverse variety of flora and a range of amenity interest. The wildflowers have taken really well and we look forward to seeing them spread in time. The increase in light levels from the tree work that has taken place has enabled the woodland floor to become more alive with plant growth and tree seedlings appearing. The lower storey trees are also now growing at a better rate.
The Western boundary has already increased in wildlife activity. The birdlife that seldom visited this hedgeline has now started to use it regularly. We look forward to seeing this increase year by year as the saplings grow in size.
The hedgelayed hedge has thickened up considerably and is sure to be providing shelter for many creatures
The wildflower meadow is taking shape, considering we had the driest April for a few years we are pleased with the germination rate and will look to reseed & plant in the small areas that have not done so well. There is a good diverse range of plants that have germinated and we hope that through good long term management this will find a good balance.
We are most proud of the impact the site has on visitors; everyone regards the Clophill Centre as an oasis where they can sit back relax and really connect with the natural world.
Benefits to People
Through the volunteer days we have built upon an already existing community of people that like to work in nature improving the landscape. Although some are seasoned planters they have all learnt something from the experience as we have had skilled professionals working alongside them. We would always take time at the beginning of the day to connect with the purpose and mission of the project, and given the current environmental crisis I think this helped inspire people to come together with a common purpose of tending the land in a good and sustainable fashion.
We have had many youths on the land, via the nature connection school that runs here weekly and also through the MacIntyre charity that have both spent time outdoors taking in the scenery. All of these have reported that they really enjoy the time in nature and find it nourishing.
There has been a noticeable interest from the people who visit the centre in what has been happening with the land and a great appreciation of the abundance of bird life and nature in general.
The difference it has made to me personally is a great appreciation of the value of working in partnership, stretching my edges of doing administrative work, which is not usually my preference as I’d rather be just working on the land. It has been very satisfying to see the difference the work has made already, and with the understanding that this will only improve over time I am pleased to have played a part in the inception.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
Yes the site is certainly in better condition and through the process of research and consultation I think we all understand the site a little better.
The landscape is definitely in better condition as the increase in biodiversity is a direct result of this. Bird life has exploded and we can only assume that this is due to the increased areas that are suitable for habitat and the increase in food availability, all of which points towards a healthy eco-system.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
A Dry April for the wildflower seed germination was not helpful at all! We used irrigation to combat this, however this is never as effective as the once renowned April showers!
I would put some of the budget towards marketing and monitoring the project. Although we have managed to do this to some degree of success I believe having experts in this area paid to do the work would have increased the reach of what we have done here, and in regards to the monitoring it would have made surveys of wildlife much easier to achieve.
Advice to others would be to take time to work in partnership with experts in the field and make decisions based on all the input they give, this will ensure ongoing success and strengthening of relationships with a community of people that will support the development of the land.
A big thank you for the funding which has clearly enhanced what was already in place in terms of a wide variety of wildlife habitats. There is of course an understanding that the benefits will evolve over time though there is already a sense of excitement about the evolving benefits.
In terms of the feedback from people who visit the Centre there has been a noticeable interest from them about what been happening and appreciation of the abundance of bird life and nature in general.
Gratitude on many levels!
-Richard Diss (Prop.)
It was an absolute delight to learn how to thin, cut, lay the hedge and glean the knowledge of someone who knew what they were doing and more importantly..why. To see an old elm start budding afterwards has been a joy. The hedge now looks beautiful and is thickening with the plants set. It feels wonderful to have this traditional hedgerow skill alive around us.
It was great to come and plant trees and wildflowers on this beautiful site, I learnt so much about the patterns of nature and how to work with them, thank you so much!
As a wildlife enthusiast I am so please to have found the Clophill Centre, not only are there great areas for surveying, I will be doing some next year, but the people here are passionate and knowledgeable in how to create habitat for better diversity! So grateful for the find!
It’s great to see how the woods are being developed at Clophill, and the support the team are building. I have been part of the community here for some time and really appreciate the opportunity to come and help with the woodland management. Its been a great opportunity to work with like minded people to help create something meaningful at a time when we need it most.
This is important and meaningful work that is taking place here, to be able to work with nature in harmonious ways to help support the wildlife systems is, in my view, vital to the survival of our species. Thank you for the inspiring day on the land.
Over the last two years I started coming to Clophill to regularly tend the labyrinth that we had built in late 2019. It turned out to be as much a service to me as I am to this small special space at Clophill. I have seen birds of prey, butterflies, lizards, pheasants and deer there. The trees particularly as I enter the woodland path are amazing with an abundance of flowers. I noticed this year that the woods were alive with birdsong and that light is coming through and there were Spring flowers bursting through the soil in little patches. In the past the wood had seemed rather quiet and dark. I sometimes bring friends here, it is such a peaceful place.I can connect here with nature and with people. I come away feeling my soul has been nourished.