Just like Cinderella local woodlands in Birmingham and the Black Country are to be given a makeover, starting this winter. They will be transformed from dark, overgrown places into beautiful flower- and bird-filled copses and spinneys by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.
The Trust does not have a magic wand so the change will be made by the hard work of their own staff, helped by volunteers from community and school groups. The other difference between the project and pantomime is that the changes are not in danger of disappearing at midnight, but will endure for many years.
The woodlands involved include those in Cannon Hill Park Birmingham, the Smestow Valley in Wolverhampton and the Rowley Hills, in the middle of the Black Country. The work is funded by the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area. This is a £595k government funded project for the restoration of the natural environment on a landscape scale. It is led by the Trust and is supported by over fifty partner organisations.
The project will address the important task of managing the many new woodlands planted in the last 30 years. Many have not been adequately managed and the Trust will remedy this by thinning the trees. This will help those left to mature, and encourage native woodland flowers like bluebell, wood anemone and primrose. Seedlings will be provided by the Trust's "Growing Local Flora" project.
Chopping trees down may not be expected of The Wildlife Trust, but there are important reasons for doing so, as Project Officer Su James explains: " Where there's dense woodland, light doesn't reach the woodland floor and there's no space for new woodland plants to grow. Instead of carpets of beautiful flowers providing a much needed food source for bees, butterflies and other insects, all you get is bare ground ."
Material gathered from thinning trees will also benefit wildlife. For example, beetle larvae can feed on the wood as it begins to decompose, and logs will be stacked to create places for reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
This work will go a little way to compensate for the likely cuts in staff and finance for local authority parks and open spaces now being discussed and consulted upon. For every fairy godmother it seems that there has to be a Baron Hardcastle.
Merry Christmas to all who read this.