Trust Chairperson Christine Bull used a special golden shovel to cut the first sod in the rejuvenation of the area alongside the disused Lichfield to Walsall railway between Falklands Road and Fossway Lane.
The project 'Fosseway Heath, Nature Reserve & Wetlands' (formerly provisionally known as Lichfield Haven Nature Reserve) has been awarded £18,500 from the Postcode Local Trust - read more about the award here.
Christine said "The first job is to install a notice board at the Falkland Road entrance, which we must keep updated with initially the outline plan and subsequently how we're progressing. We plan to use WRG camp in October to restore the original canal wall and our Grounds/Green are currently cutting back overgrowth to expose it. There will be help from Queen's Croft students and we may have corporate groups working on the site in the next few months. Because of the important migrant and resident birds we need to be careful not to disturb them in the nesting season. So, a huge pressure to get earthworks done before February! "
The re-routing of the canal from its original route to the Falkland Road "green swathe" will mean that in order to get a 70ft boat round that much tighter bend a rerouting is required into a wider section (with mooring) that extends to the fence at the foot of the railway embankment. It will then rejoin the original canal route approximately at the steps half way along. Hence, the original route will become the wetlands.
The Postcode Local Trust grant cannot cover the cost of boardwalking the whole length, so it will have islands with board walks connecting them.
Fosseway Heath, Nature Reserve & Wetlands is located on a 600m x100m length of derelict land, being donated to us by Lichfield District Council from our current license to work there. Whilst it will be some time before the canal is restored in water, it’s the Trust’s policy to create a surfaced towpath in advance of actual canal restoration giving access to all. This location is alongside a disused railway starting opposite a large housing development that is planned for further expansion.
Currently there is a rough track mainly used by dog walkers who say a project should install a circuit for disabled & pushchair-friendly access, including board walks through the planned wetland. It is also an important site for linnets, some migratory birds and small mammals. Staffordshire has an established plan to recreate rare lowland heathland; this will be an important stepping stone, thereby improving biodiversity, but it needs excavating to bring the buried acid, sandy soil to the surface.
An outdoor classroom will be created using timber from another of our sites, which will be used by the schools, Guiding & Scouting groups with which we already link and which will attract other groups and therefore increase education about wildlife and cultural history. Funding is needed for the cost of moving and using our own machinery, for path materials and board walks. All labour will be volunteered, a small but growing number of whom are referred by various voluntary bodies.
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