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The Solent, a tree, a country park and something special

It is not often you come across something special, but today was that day when walking along the shore at Fort Victoria Country Park I came across David Wallace and his horizontal tree carving.  Horizontal as the sea is ever encroaching on the land and the holm oaks are forever slip sliding into the sea.

David has taken to carving the fallen trees and this one is of the animal life of the Solent, both past and present. David stopped work for a moment and we counted how many species he had done. 24, no it was 25 in all as he had forgotten to count the seal at the base of the tree.

The Solent and the tree

View across the Solent from where David is carving the fallen tree.

I came back later in the day as David had kindly allowed me to take photos of him and his work. Whilst there I watched him engage with passers by enthralled by his work – he really is knowledgeable about the marine environment and people keep asking questions – often he spends more time talking to people than carving – but then it is all voluntary, so there are no targets to keep.

It’s the ‘aquarium’ for the ranger explained David – much easier to illustrate what lives in the sea than from any book or a picture. David has been carving since 8 years old, mostly public works of art with the occasional private commission. The Solent carving has taken two months and he says he will keep going until it is finished or indeed until it gets washed away by the sea.

Tree carving

Admiring the tree carving on the shoreline

A passer-by asked me what my favourite carving was, I immediately said the limpet, but on second thoughts it’s probably the sand slater or maybe even the stingray…

Location: Fort Victoria Country Park, Isle of Wight.

Addendum: This year we celebrate the Countryside Act’s 50th Anniversary.  One of the outcomes of the Act was the creation of Country Parks – and a key component of Country Parks was enjoyment of the countryside and I reckon David Wallace’s work is a fine example of Country Parks in action today.

UPDATE: On the night of October 17th someone came to the Country Park sawed the carving from its trunk and stole the lovely carving and took it away. Now all that remains of David’s work of all Summer long is a tree stump. If you ever get offered or see anything resembling David’s tree carving from the pics above please inform the Police.

Photographing the Greensand Country

Greensand Country Landscape Partnership

It was particularly pleasing to secure a photography commission from the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership as previously, some years back, I had played a part in helping to devise the Audience Development Plan for the project.

My current role is to help build up a library of photographs that feature the distinctive qualities of the Greensand Country. The two days recently spent in the area were to focus on taking photographs of the first Greensand Country Festival (26th May – 3rd June 2018) with the photos helping to monitor progress and for use in future Festival guides and publicity.

In all I attended 6 Festival events ranging from a ramblers walk, a very well attended Walk4health walk through the lovely and recently restored Ampthill Great Park (again HLF Funded) a Forest School activity through to a singing event on Woburn Sands Station!

I thoroughly enjoyed the two days which was really helped by people happily allowing me to take their photographs.  While taking the photos I must have spoken to several dozen people and it is surprising how few have heard of the HLF funded Landscape Partnership schemes.

These Landscape Partnerships have helped restore many local landscapes up and around the country and one that has engaged many thousands of people in the process. Just one of life’s hidden gems, I guess.

Background: Greensand Country is an island of distinctive, beautiful and loved countryside in the heart of Bedfordshire. The area contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining heathland, more than half of its woodland and more historic parkland per hectare than anywhere else in the country. It is a landscape rich in wildlife and cultural heritage, with its own special qualities and sense of place.

More info: http://greensandcountry.com/

Photographs. Taken by Pete Johnstone, published courtesy of Greensand Country ©. All images have parental permissions where required.

 

 

Crowdfunding Nature: Love a Duck campaign!

Duck End is a much loved nature reserve on the edge of Maulden in Bedfordshire. It has ponds, marshy areas, pollards and a wildflower meadow and home for lots of wildlife. The reserve is also the last remnant of Maulden Moor, where peat was cut for fuel in the 18th century, so it has wildlife and some history but walking around the reserve, especially in winter, is getting increasingly difficult as it can be a very wet place.

The Greensand Trust who manage the reserve want to replace the old boardwalk with a new one and will be running a crowdfunding campaign, called Love a Duck!  to help raise funds for the new boardwalk.

Crowdfunding will be used to replace the old boardwalk

Crowdfunding will be used to replace the old boardwalk.

I met Jon Balaam from the Greensand Trust on the day of filming the crowdfunding video who explained that the volunteers have really enjoyed preparing for the video and the crowdfunding idea and that the Trust hopes to be launching the campaign next week.

The crowdfunding video

The crowdfunding video

The Greensand Trust is one of a number conservation organisations who are taking part in Crowdfunding Nature a pilot project run by the East of England Biodiversity Forum to test the potential for crowdfunding to raise funds and profile for nature based projects.

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Watch out for the Love a Duck crowdfunding campaign coming soon!

Photo: Pete Johnstone

 

 

National Federation of Parks and Green Space

The National Federation for Parks and Greenspace is the leading voluntary body supporting Regional greenspace Forums and Friends groups in the UK. The NFPGS was set up in 2008 to share learning, develop good practice and most importantly to raise the issues impacting on open spaces and their volunteers and to recognise the value that greenspace can bring to communities and the environment.

With funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation the NFPGS is developing it’s work in the coming year by organising regional conferences to help increase the Network and encourage closer working between the different Forums and Friends groups. Sarah Royal CEO from the NFPGS said: “we are looking forward to meeting lots people from the member groups but we would also be keen to see new people at the events and indeed join the Federation to help strengthen the greenspace movement.  The first regional conferences is the East Midlands to be held in Nottingham on the 7th November and this is closely followed by West Midlands in Coventry on the 14th November”.  For more information on the regional conferences and the NFPGS please contact: info@natfedparks.org.uk

Funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation is also supporting the development of a Strategic Business Plan for the NFPGS which will help lay out a clear framework for the Federation to become a sustainable and long term organisation to champion the community parks and green space volunteer sector over the coming years. Pete Johnstone from PJ.elements and Jane Thomas from Milton Contract Ltd have been appointed to develop the plan and will aim to complete in the New Year. Part of Pete’s role will also be looking at funding options to maintain and develop the work of the NFPGS.

To us with the business plan please take part in our survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MKBW2KZ

 

 

Photos:  © Pete Johnstone