New Park Project Plans for St Andrew's Park Wildlife Group

P1030109The Wildlife group of Friends of St Andrews Park has plans for a new park project.

Bristol has been awarded the title of European Green Capital for 2015. As part of this award, a funding organisation, ‘Bristol 2015’ has been set up that has allocated £10,000 to each Neighbourhood Partnership in the city. It is to our local Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership that FoSAP are applying for a grant for this planned new project. So if we are successful in our bid, what are we hoping to use the money for?

Five years ago, FoSAP wildlife group decided, in order to increase the biodiversity of the park, to convert a small area near the pond into a wildflower meadow. This quiet corner seemed very suitable for such a project, being isolated from the main, well used grassy slopes and relatively safe from the trampling effects of many feet. It would provide another habitat for wildlife in this corner, adjacent to the already well established pond and the mature native species hedge.

We were advised that the existing turf would need to be removed which would both reduce the fertility of the site and make it easy for sowing wildflower seed. At the time, although limited by the cost of the project, we were not really sure that removal of the turf alone would be sufficient to lower the soil fertility. This condition is a necessary step in the creation of such a meadow, in order to reduce the growth and dominance of grasses, which if provided with a good supply of soil nutrients, would otherwise outcompete the growth of the wild flowers.

In May 2009, a mix of native wildflower and wild grass seeds was sowed on the two areas stripped of turf on each side of the path leading to the Melita Road entrance. An extended dry spell soon afterwards meant that germination was not as successful as it might have been; but that first summer there was still a good display of wildflowers. The following year was even better, but for each subsequent year to the present, there has been a steady deterioration in the display of flowers as grasses became more and more successful, dominating the meadow to the detriment of the wildflowers.

We are now convinced that this situation developed because topsoil had not been scraped off prior to sowing the meadow. By reducing soil fertility to low levels in this way we should successfully avoid the previous problem of grass dominance.

Our plan is now to recreate the meadow, this time employing best practice. Our bid will be based on the cost of JCB hire for scraping off the top soil, removal and disposal of this soil by lorry and purchase of fresh wildflower meadow seed. If our bid is successful, we hope to create the new wildflower meadow during spring/early summer of 2015.

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