Mick Wooden, Wood Manager at Ash Millennium Wood Management Group, near Martock, explains how their recent grant from Somerset Community Foundation is helping volunteers fuel local biodiversity.
“Millennium Wood is a community wood that was planted on land owned by Ash Parish Council. We have a group of volunteers who look after it – and that means keeping it as an informal recreation site and carrying out biodiversity and nature restoration projects. We look after what’s there already while planting new trees and wildflowers. Local people tell us they really enjoy using the space and feel a lot of pride in it.
During the pandemic the wood was just about the only place that villagers could meet outside. That’s really important because a village needs some sort of public open space where people can enjoy nature. The village school use it for their Forest School, too. Biodiversity is a bigger part of the school curriculum now and our wood is vital for biodiversity: it’s a small area of quiet nature for people to enjoy. And we’ve received a Green Flag Award for our work for each of the last five years.
“Working on the wood helps me feel I’m doing my bit against climate change and nature loss.”
We mainly used the grant from Somerset Community Foundation on climate change projects. We think that winters are going to be milder and wetter while summers get hotter and drier. This means in the future there’s a risk of drought conditions. So, we want to invest in a tank to keep a decent supply of water on the site – otherwise plants are going to suffer and die. We’re also looking for a strimmer that runs on batteries so we can be more sustainable in the future and not have to use petrol.
We have an acre that we’re trying to turn into a wildflower meadow. What tends to happen when you’ve got a fertile site is that native wildflowers don’t really thrive because they’re choked out by things like grass and nettles. So gradually we’re cutting them back so the wildflowers can grow. That’s great for pollinators and helps people appreciate the site that little bit more.
Working on the wood helps me feel I’m doing my bit against climate change and nature loss. If people can get out there and help, they feel less anxiety about those big challenges. It gives me satisfaction that we’re out there improving the area year by year and that people are appreciating it.”