Conservation volunteers and ABP at the sharp end of bridleway clearance

October 14, 2013

An area of mature woodland near the east entrance of the Port of Immingham has been the subject of an intensive clean-up and restoration operation thanks to Associated British Ports (ABP), Humber Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA) and a dedicated team of Humber Conservation Volunteers (HCV).

Now the work is set to gather momentum after ABP presented the hard-working volunteers with a brand new pole saw, which they will use for pruning tall shrubs and trees for this and future projects.

The bridleway, which sits on land owned by ABP, was nominated by the company as its south bank biodiversity project for 2012 and as such, plans were made to tidy the area and make it more appealing to the community and other visitors.

The area, known as Long Strip, runs for almost half a mile, providing access from Laporte Road to the banks of the Humber, and is a popular spot for ramblers and dog walkers. The woodland contains many important, mature native species including oak and ash, and is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Because of this, it requires careful management in order to make the public bridleway accessible but at the same protecting the trees and the nature conservation interest at the site.

Christine Darwent, ABP Safety and Environment Manager, Grimsby & Immingham explained: “We decided last year that Long Strip would make a great biodiversity project as it’s a popular area for walkers and needed tidying up.

“We were absolutely delighted when Humber INCA and local volunteers offered to help us with the work as they have the specialist conservation skills that were needed to complete the project successfully.

“Since we started the work we have cleared overgrown plants, removed litter, including lots of garden rubbish and carried out some hedge laying and replanting. As a result the site is looking much better.”

As part of the ongoing maintenance, ABP has been asked to ensure the bridleway has adequate clearance for all users – including horses and riders – meaning that some heavy pruning of mature trees was necessary. However because of the existing TPOs the team had to apply for consent from the local authority.

Alan Jones, Conservation Officer with Humber INCA was only too happy to assist with the work.

“This particular area of woodland is likely to have been a 19th Century shelter belt or area for game cover and as such has a number of mature trees,” said Alan. “In order to maintain the integrity of the site Humber INCA is drawing up a management plan that will assist ABP with ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

“We’ve already applied for consent to work on the trees that are subject to TPOs and until we receive the necessary permissions, we are working on the areas that do not require any approvals, like hedge laying.

Around 18 volunteers have been involved in the project, along with ABP staff, with at least six on the site at any one time, and most have been through woodland management and conservation training.

Dave Heinrich of South Killingholme is a former stevedore on the port and finds his role as a volunteer extremely fulfilling.

He said: “I find volunteering on projects like this very rewarding. Not only are you helping the community, but the comradeship and camaraderie is fantastic.

“This is a great project to work on as it’s a valuable piece of mature woodland which is important as a habitat for wildlife and as an area for leisure activities. Being able to make such a big difference to my local area is a brilliant feeling.”. HCV can also be found on Facebook and have forthcoming projects at North Killingholme, Stallingborough and Habrough, including free hedgelaying courses later in the year.

Anyone interested in nature conservation at Long Strip or other local sites should contact  Alan Jones at Humber Industry Nature Conservation Association on 01652 631 523 or email alan.jones@humberinca.co.uk 

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