I managed to obtain a roll of Kodak Gold (Ultra) 400, something that seems to be becoming an endangered species around these parts! I loaded it up and on a day that had sunny intervals and the odd shower, set off for our local Avon Heath Country Park. It’s located in St Leonards, Dorset, about 10 miles north of Bournemouth, and about 4 miles from home!
The park has undergone huge change since my last visit; large amounts of trees have been cut down, at a time when the world needs many, many more. Both the National Trust (UK) and Woodland Trust (UK) are running campaign’s to encourage people to make a donation to plant a tree – I’ve done this with the Woodland Trust a year or two ago myself. So why do that when rangers are cutting them down?
As usual the answer is in the detail. The park is a HEATH and NOT a forest or wood! I went online to find more detail; they have their own website that gives no detail of the recent changes, what wildlife can be found there, or the reason for cutting trees. What’s the point of the website I question? The only useful info I could find was on TripAdvisor! The first clear message seems to be don’t use the café, but buried in the mire was a response I assume is in the public domain so I’ll cut and paste:
Avon Heath, General Manager at Avon Heath Country Park, responded to this review
“Avon Heath Country Park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its wildlife value. Natural England, the governing body who oversee the management of SSSI’s in the UK, require the Council to carry out conservation works to restore the heathland based on their ecological surveys and assessment reports. The removal of the trees is to save the rare heathland habitats and wildlife (Dorset has 2.25% – 2.5% of the worlds lowland heathland) as such this work is vital to halt the loss of one of our rarest habitats. The now open heathland has greatly improved the habitat for all our rare heathland species such as Nightjar, Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard to name but a few, and we will continue to monitor their populations and expect to see significant increases. Whilst in the short term the work does indeed look severe, experience of heathland respiration shows recovery of any disturbed ground is rapid. Around the perimeter/properties of Avon Heath we have kept pine/woodland boarders, so birds, deer will move into them. There is shade to be found in the deciduous/pine woodland, with trees being left by seats around the park. Whilst planting more broadleaved trees is to be encouraged, these need to be in areas where it is not at the cost of existing high value wildlife.”
So there it is! Why not put that on an info sign or at least on the web site! A working solution that would seem to please most people might be to bulldoze the café and plant some trees there! It is indeed shocking that so little of this original habitat now survives worldwide. So what does 2.5% of the worlds lowland heath look like? I hope you enjoy the images below… oh and please go hug a tree – Say Andy sent you!
I chose to expose the film at the box speed of 400, but erred on the side of over-exposure. Glad to report the film performed as expected, although I’ve used it before, not for a very long time. We have ever fewer of these open spaces to enjoy – and on a sunny day like this visit, I’m glad for them!