Evening Hill tree work
3rd February 2022
Evening Hill is an open space in Canford Cliffs ward that slopes down from Sandbanks Road to the harbour and affords fine views across the water to the Purbecks beyond.
The space comprises an area of grass with benches, and a network of informal paths and steps around fenced-off wildlife areas; there is also a promenade beside the waters edge.
There is considerable nature conservation interest in the site; it is designated as part of the Luscombe Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – a national nature conservation designation denoting a protected area – due to its remnant heathland vegetation, sand lizards and Bermuda grass.
As part of the Evening Hill cycle lane project (outlined in the image below) we have undertaken work to restore the SSSI boosting access to nature, supporting our health and wellbeing.
Evening Hill is enjoyed as a natural open space ans we have carried out tree work with the aim of enhancing its enjoyment for visitors and wildlife.
The site is included within the Luscombe Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the Holm Oak trees growing here were unsuited to a SSSI designation. Their removal follows advice from Natural England (government advisory body for the country’s natural environment) and the council’s nature conservation experts. Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) is an invasive species with a thick evergreen canopy, which prevents the natural growth of heathland and acidic grasslands below it. The trees have been replaced with a grass seed mix suitable for the acidic soil here.
If left unmanaged Holm Oak would quickly spread with disastrous long term results, including:
- Evening Hill would become dominated by Holm Oak with little or no understory, reducing wildlife diversity and supporting just a handful of species.
- The council would be failing in its legal obligations to protect and enhance the SSSI, potentially leading to prosecution by Natural England.
- This special site could lose its designation and we would lose another part of the complex of heathland sites which together comprise the Dorset Heathlands, which has already lost 86% of its area since the mid-18th century.
The few Scots Pines here are a significant feature of the site and an appropriate species to retain. They are a native species, give character to the site and are more fitting with the area’s historical landscapes. They also add far more value than Holm Oak, with 91 species of associated insect (compared to just 2 with Holm Oak) which in turn provides food for other species up the food chain.
While carrying out the tree work here we undertook repairs to the fencing and benches.
- Tree removal work – January / February 2022
- Ground prep and grass seeding – spring 2022
- Repairs to the fence – spring / summer 2022
- Bench refurbishment – TBC
We apologise for any inconvenience caused while the work is ongoing and thank you for your patience.
Funding Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme
Project Leader Ruth Wharton
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