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Middleton Park NVC Survey and Community Engagement

Client: Leeds City Council
Duration: May to October 2013
Areas of survey: Middleton Park, South Leeds
Project manager: Gordon Haycock
Outputs: NVC survey of Local Nature Reserve and community engagement events

Middleton Wood Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is a 80 hectare ancient woodland in an urban setting in South Leeds forming part of Middleton Park. In addition a substantial portion of the Park is a former open cast coal mine, now restored with plantations and grassland. Friends of Middleton Park supported by Leeds City Council Estate Officer Graeme Ashton, identified a need for ecological survey and management advice. A particular focus was understanding woodland ecology and enhancement of groundflora in the developing plantations.

With Gordon's long experience in botanical survey, delivering training and working with communities, Haycock and Jay Associates were the natural choice, and were invited to undertake National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey of woodland and grassland, and design and deliver two one day workshops for Friends of Middleton Park group.

In order to provide a baseline to inform management aimed at maintaining and improving conservation status of LNR habitats, NVC survey was undertaken in May and June 2013. There is considerable community interest in the site and so two community events were designed to enhance the public's understanding of the value of the biodiversity resource at Middleton. The first event focussed on woodland survey and groundflora enhancement, and the second was undertaken by Sylvia Jay looking at small mammals of woodland and woodland edge habitats.

Woodland and grassland survey has allowed mapping of NVC communities, and formed the basis for management actions including sustainable methods for promoting development of ecologically relevant groundflora enhancement in new plantations.

Effective engagement, support and communication with Graeme and Friends of Middleton Wood resulted in management recommendations to deliver biodiversity benefits and tailored to the aspirations of the local community. The Friends group understand and appreciate the diversity of woodland communities and feel empowered to act to promote groundflora diversification in developing plantations.

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