The Green Light Trust have been doing some fantastic work on the common. They have kindly written us a piece about the trust itself and all of the work they have done so far and included some photos.
Please take the time to read it, they do amazing work within communities and we thank them for their efforts on the common so far. We look forward to the continued relationship between them and the RCC.
'Green Light Trust is a charity founded in 1989 that works with the natural environment to promote wellbeing in people. Since August 2020 we have had a group working at Rushmere Common on a program entitled Community Green Care. Funded by Suffolk Community Foundation it is designed for people that have attended more than one of our woodland based programs and want to build on their practical conservation skills and knowledge. The course looks at other habitats than the broad-leaved woodland found at our main sites in Martlesham and Bury St Edmunds. It introduces some of the broader principals behind conservation and land management including history, soil, drainage, topography, and succession in ecosystems.
Our relationship with Rushmere Common started back in January when I approached Bob Gosden the Warden, at the suggestion of my colleague Danny Thorington. We outlined a project that Bob would take back to the Commoners Committee for approval. Unfortunately the proposed start date for that project was late March 2020. Despite this timing we were eventually able to put a group out at the Common by August. We initially started working in the strip of woodland behind the golf club house, that runs along the side of Tasmania Road. We created beetle hotels by collecting dead wood and burying it vertically in holes in the ground. This creates an ideal environment for stag beetle larva that need buried rotting wood to complete their long juvenile stage before the adults finally fly. We constructed bat and bird boxes to put in the trees and opened up an area of ground behind the police house and opposite the hospital. This area was dark and overgrown so we aimed to let in more light to encourage a wider range of plant and animal life as well as making it more pleasant to walk through and easier to remove the seemingly inevitable litter that blows in from the road.
From here we moved to other parts of the heath, clearing gorse along path edges to improve access and hopefully encourage some other plants. We have collected and spread some heather seed in the cleared areas and used the brash cuttings to build dead hedges that should over time become bird and beetle habitat. We adopt a principal called scalloping which involves clearing pockets along a path edge so that there is a mix of fresh regrowth and established vegetation, creating sheltered patches of diversity that is greater than if the path was left with a straight edge all of the same age.
More recently we have done some work to keep the pond open by reducing reed cover and leaf fall, as well as letting in light.
We aim for the group to be self-managing. To do this we have identified the skills and qualities required for groups to run successfully and are matching these with the personalities within the group. This is leading to people recognising the positive qualities they have and those of others. These can be different from those appreciated in a purely social context. This is not to say that the social side is not equally important. It is always nice when local residents come and chat about what we are doing. By far the majority of feedback has been positive but even those that question what we are doing provide a useful opportunity for the group to engage and explain.
As well as the conservation knowledge and skills learned there is additional training in general outdoor skills and formal training available in First aid, food hygiene, infection control, manual handling and COSHH. As well as helping the group to be self-sufficient they will be useful for those looking to get back into employment. This is further built on with discussion about workplace procedures and conduct.
The course runs for 2 days a week on Mondays and Thursdays and will run into the spring and summer. This represents a greater time commitment than our standard courses, building resilience and stamina. We hope it can be the foundation for a long-term relationship between Green Light Trust and Rushmere Common'.