It was not the most pleasant of days, sleet, rain and more rain, but this did not deter the team of volunteers from Northumbrian Water who, as part of the company’s “Just an Hour” scheme, came to lend their support and time to help for a day to clear scrub at Black Plantation.
Black Plantation, leased to Durham Wildlife Trust from the Woodland Trust, is now an important site for the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, which is one of County Durham’s rarest. This small charismatic butterfly found on the wing between the months of June to July, requires a habitat consisting of a mixture of short grassland and a diversity of nectar plants, as well as the larval food plant, the marsh violet. The paddock within the heart of the woodland is grazed by Exmoor ponies to maintain this short sward. However birch and willow trees from the adjoining wood are a continuous seed source and the conditions this year with some warm weather and plentiful amounts of rain have been perfect for tree seed germination and rapid sapling growth, which if left unchecked would eventually turn the paddock into woodland, obliterating all the important food plants for the butterfly.
So “Just an Hour” did “Just the Job” cutting back the willow and birch invading the paddock, a back breaking job under very wet conditions under foot and from above. It has to be said it was an awful day in terms of weather but they have not been put off and unanimously said they would come back and help on future projects.
For Durham Wildlife Trust this kind of support from corporate groups is invaluable, not only giving us more man power to do more jobs but also in helping us tell people, who may not know about us, what we do and why what we do is important.
So thank you “Just an Hour” for a job well done.