Laugherne Brook Local Nature Reserve
Situated to the west of the city, the reserve encompasses a length of approximately one mile of Laugherne Brook. It forms a ribbon of woodland, scrub, hay meadows and amenity grassland through the housing area. The reserve also includes a smaller section in Lower Wick, where Laugherne Brook joins the River Teme.
Access: Pedestrian access from Oldbury Road, Sapphire Crescent, Emerald Road, Greenacres Road. The separate southern section in Lower Wick is accessed from Manitoba Close, Ontario Close and Toronto Close.
interpretation board, viewing platform, amenity grassland
Open: Pedestrian access 24hrs.
Dogs: Well behaved dogs welcome, please clear up after your dog using the bins provided.
Habitat: Wet grassland, Semi-natural grassland, Wet woodland, Stream, River bank, Veteran trees.
Notable Wildlife: Kingfisher, Kingcup, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willows
Other features: The Friends of Laugherne Brook are a group of local residents interested in the management of the Reserve. They have organised many practical activities since 2008, including community Fun Days at Sapphire Crescent. If you are a local resident or otherwise interested in the Reserve, you may wish to join their Facebook group.
Management tasks include:
- Pollarding of willows
- Mowing of Wet grassland
- Mowing of Amenity grassland
- Maintenance of furniture
- Footpath cutting
- Tree planting
- Himalayan Balsam removal
- Treatment of Japanese Knotweed
What can you see there?
The habitats encountered along the reserve are many and varied; the northern end being mostly dominated by willow carr, adjacent to the brook within the floodplain.
In the spring, kingcups or marsh marigolds can be seen in the wetter areas. The larger willow trees are pollarded (cut at head height) in rotation to prevent the crown from becoming too heavy, and to rejuvenate the tree; which in response produces vigorous new growth.
Moving south adjacent to Sapphire Crescent, for half a mile the brook is bordered by grassland; some of which is managed as a meadow, from which a hay crop is taken each year. This provides a home for numerous invertebrates and small mammals.
In season, butterfly species such as orange tip, brimstone, holly blue, meadow brown, speckled wood and gatekeeper can be seen.
The brook provides a home for course fish species such as minnow, ruff, dace and chub; providing food for kingfishers and occasionally heron.
Mallard and moorhen are year round residents on the brook, whilst other species are drawn to the willow and alder trees that thrive in the damp environment; goldfinch, siskin and occasionally redpoll visit the alders to feed from the cones, while blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff song can be heard during the spring and summer months.
What have we been doing there?
We have an on-going programme of management of the willow trees within the reserve centred on the traditional method of pollarding. In the past, many of the trees have been managed using this method to produce withies and basket weaving products.
With the cessation in the use of these wood products the management of the trees fell into decline, allowing the willows to become overgrown, top heavy and liable to split or fall. The method essentially involves the removal of branches at head height; preventing grazing of the regrowth by livestock, and producing growth above the level of flooding. The new shoots grow out from the main stem in a fan shape and can be easily harvested after just a few years.
A few of the trees will be pollarded each winter, ensuring their long term survival and providing great habitat for birds, insects and small mammals.
Some small grassland areas at the Oldbury Rd and Greenacres Rd sections are managed as miniature hay meadows. The rough grass is cut and removed each year in late summer. This prevents a build up of nutrients, giving the finer grasses and wild flowers a chance to thrive without coarser vegetation dominating.
Dealing with flooding
The brook is subjected to periodic flooding which produces much debris and blockages. Left in situ this can increase the danger of flooding of adjacent land and property.
The Conservation team clear debris from the brook on a regular basis; after the summer floods of 2007 the entire length of the brook under our management was cleared by hand, and the debris removed from site.
Vandalised trees along the Brookside Road area of the site have been replaced with native ash trees, and in the Greenacres Road section a hedge line has been re-installed.
The Friends of Laugherne Brook have planted several trees on the Reserve, including an English Elm cloned from Dutch Elm disease resistant stock by Pershore College.