Conservation work begins at Stoke Park estate

February 01 2018

CONSERVATION work is under way at Stoke Park estate.

CONSERVATION work is under way at Stoke Park estate.

It has received around £500,000 of Countryside Stewardship funding from Natural England to carry out significant work over the next two years.  This money has been match- funded using some of the Stoke Park dowry money which can only be used for work on the estate.

Bristol City Council says the  planned work follows consultation in early 2016 based on the draft Conservation Management Plan which received over 700 responses.

Significant investment is needed to restore and improve the estate, support a wider diversity of wildlife and protect the listed monuments, which include the World War Two anti-aircraft defence battery, known as Purdown Percy.

 Improvements due to take place include clearing scrub and young woodland, introducing grazing, the restoration of a heritage wall, planting of 70 new parkland trees to replace those that have been lost, hedge laying, planting an orchard and establishment of species rich grassland.

Further funding is also being sought to turn the site into a key educational resource.   

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, cabinet  member with responsibility for parks, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding to help protect and enhance the fantastic Stoke Park Estate.

“The estate is a Grade II registered historic park which has many important historical features, including the World War II anti-aircraft gun battery. It is also a diverse and interesting landscape enjoyed by local people for a range of leisure activities. 

“The estate is a hugely popular green space within the city, and we want to carry out these improvements to make sure that people can continue to enjoy it for generations to come.”

Scrub and young woodland is being cleared from the site to protect areas of grassland that are being lost. This grassland is important and contributes to Stoke Park being designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance – scrub needs to be removed to allow this to flourish again.       

Historically cattle were grazed at Stoke Park to help manage the land, and some parts of the estate are already grazed. However it is now planned to extend the amount of parkland that will be grazed in the future.  Grazing helps stop the spread of scrub and invasive fast growing trees, allowing a greater variety of grassland plants and wildlife to flourish.  It also provides a more sustainable and natural way to manage the land and restore the historic landscape.

Grazing will take place from April to November in different parts of the estate with the cattle moved between fields. 

Once grazing is established people will still be able to walk through grazed areas (apart from the area around Purdown Percy) but some rules will apply, and in areas that are grazed, dogs will need to be kept on leads and away from cattle.

Ian Barrett, CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted that Bristol City Council has been successful in this funding which allows Stoke Park’s historic and valuable landscape to be managed sensitively for people and wildlife.The work to restore and improve grassland is vitally important. Wildflower grassland is not only a beautiful landscape to enjoy, but a rich habitat for many species including butterfly and bee populations. Yet we’ve lost 97% of the UK’s wildflower-rich grasslands since the 1930s.”

There will be some disruption to some normal walking routes whilst scrub and young woodland removal takes place.  The council’s parks team is holding a  series of walks to explain the work taking place. 

For up-to-date information about the location of work and proposed grazed areas go online to  www.bristol.gov.uk/stokeparkimprovements