27. Cowslip Meadow Community Engagement

Themes: Community engagement and participation; Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management

Objectives:

  • Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
  • Increase public access to and involvement in the river
  • Promote the river as a community and educational resource
  • Improve existing wildlife corridors
  • Control or eradicate invasive non-native species
  • Increase the amount and quality of habitat
  • Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements

Project description

The various projects at Cowslip Meadow are designed to engage the community in preventing pollution and clearly demonstrating the links to protecting wildlife at this site, just off the A6 in north Luton.

Cowslip Meadow is an example of an important urban wetland habitat that already helps to improve water quality naturally and which must continue to be protected.

Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire has already run a series of volunteering days at the site, beginning with a hedge laying session, led by the Community Tree Trust. This day was followed by others that focused on a number of conservation management tasks around the site, engaging local people from residents to local schools and businesses.

Recent sessions

26 September 2017: Staff from Galliford Try took part in a teambuilding event at the meadow. Tasks included improving the interpretation board, weaving the newly planted hedge, pruning, litter picking and a team habitat box challenge.

1 October 2017: the Luton and Dunstable Conservation Work party did coppicing at Cowslip Meadow. For further details about this sort of activity, please contact Trevor Tween on 01582 547095.

Potential improvement works 2018-2020

On top of this, Groundwork, in partnership with Luton Borough Council, is considering a programme of improvement works and habitat enrichment for Cowslip Meadow from 2018 - 2020, to complement the existing management plan for the site and as part of Groundwork's wider Urban Rivers Programme.

Groundwork will be conducting a number of site and species surveys over the duration of the project to capture a greater amount of survey data for this important site, which will support and inform our conservation activities.

Groundwork will be working alongside Trevor Tween, Senior Landscape & Ecology Officer for Luton Borough Council, to develop and programme of interventions to be delivered over the next few years in line with the site management plan and HLS agreements.

Some of the proposed works will include:

  • Access improvement
  • Control of invasive species
  • Site surveys and species monitoring
  • Habitat enrichment and enhancement to promote species diversity

Access improvements

The main focus of works will be to improve existing access routes around the meadow, to make the publicly-accessible areas of the site easier to access. This will include vegetation management to keep natural pathways open and the removal of any debris which can block public access routes.

We will also be looking to upgrade some of the timber structures and infrastructure across the site including walkways and bridges, where repair is required due to age or damage.

Education and interpretation will also be an element of this project and we will explore opportunities to inform the visiting public about the importance of this site as a local biodiversity and wildlife resource, be this through site interpretation, online resources, or the delivery of a programme of events or training activities on site.

Control of invasive species

Our project team will also be carrying out practical habitat management in order to control the spread of invasive species such as Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). By controlling the spread of these invasive non-native species, we will be able to provide habitats which will help the rarer meadow species to thrive and spread into healthy communities on site.

Habitat enrichment and enhancement to promote species diversity

This project will also maintain and enrich the habitats on the site to the benefit of some of the more interesting and rarer species, including The Great Crested Newt. Plus, we will have a programme of interventions to safeguard the existing communities on site and encourage further establishment.

 

Project lead: Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire
Project partners: Luton Borough Council and Community Tree Trust
Funding source: Thames Water Community Investment Fund
Project start: February 2017
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Volunteers learning how to lay a hedge

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.