16th December 2020

Groundwork South and London Borough of Hillingdon have been awarded funding from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for a project entitled
‘Natural Connections : Colne Valley Park’.  We are excited to report that our project is one of the first 68 projects to be approved.

What does the Natural Connections Project Aim to Do?

The grant of £190k, will be used to :

  • Set up a Green Team in the Colne Valley Regional Park consisting of young residents, who will be employed and trained, gaining qualifications and valuable experience to kick-start their future careers. They will undertake habitat improvements at Bucks Country Parks, Ruislip Woods, other green spaces and removal of invasive species from rivers.
  • Work with Buckinghamshire Council to Restore and Create Heathland at Black Park.
  • Hillingdon will Employ an Education/Events Officer who will primarily work at  Ruislip Woods but will also do some work at the Denham Woods.

Stewart Pomeroy, Colne Valley Park Managing Agent, from Groundwork South said

We’re delighted to have secured this funding for a Green Team of young people – it’s a fabulous opportunity for them to gain paid employment and valuable experience working in nature conservation locally, and the restoration work they do will make a very real difference in the Colne Valley Regional Park. At a time when HS2 is having such a huge impact here, the initiative is great news for this uniquely important, though constantly threatened, landscape.”

What is a Green Team?

Groundwork’s Green Teams are a successful model which prepare local unemployed residents for careers in horticulture through working towards City & Guilds qualifications and undertaking a waged 6-month work placement in grounds improvement and maintenance as a pathway into further employment at the end of the programme. We’re excited to have the opportunity to create a Colne Valley Park Green Team.

Creating Heathland at Black Park

Historically Black Park and its surrounding area had extensive Heathland habitat, but this has been lost due to forestry, urbanisation and agricultural intensification and abandonment of traditional management practices. This project presents an opportunity to improve the condition and connectivity between two areas of lowland heath, one of which is SSSI and the other being restored from a former forestry plantation. They are currently separated byan area of softwood trees and scrub that is preventing easy movement of heathland species between the two, meaning they are unable to thrive and are under threat.

Woodland Management Works in Ruislip Woods

The Ruislip Woods was London’s first National Nature Reserve (NNR), designated in 1997. The site forms 10% of London’s semi-natural ancient woodland. Our partner, London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH), has just completed the purchase of the final piece (12 hectares) of Ruislip woods, which has been in private ownership and unmanaged for decades, deteriorating in condition with rising levels of invasive species. This portion of woodland was excluded from the NNR. Now under Hillingdon ownership and management, this project provides a unique and timely opportunity to bring the area back into traditional management and to the same standard as the rest of the NNR, thus ensuring its protection for the future.

The picture shows the recently acquired area of Copse Wood.

Ruislip Woods Visitor Centre

The visitor centre beside Ruislip Lido is currently being fitted out. A permanent interactive display has been created, featuring information on the Woods, its wildlife and its history. Hillingdon will run a programme of education events and community activities from the centre.

Project Steering Group

This will comprise:

  • Groundwork South,
  • Buckinghamshire Council ,
  • London Borough of Hillingdon,
  • Colne Valley Regional Park and
  • Ruislip Woods Trust

We are so pleased to have been awarded this grant and look forward to getting this project underway early in the New Year. For updates on the project progress please watch this space.

Project Update: February 2021

The Steering Group met for the first time, over zoom, on 3rd Feb 2021, with representatives from Groundwork South, Buckinghamshire County Council, London Borough of Hillingdon, Ruislip Woods Trust and Colne Valley Park.

Stewart Pomery outlined the project and explained that Groundwork South had already interviewed and recruited a Project Delivery Manager and

Green Team Supervisor who would be starting work at the end of February. Stuart Hunt said the London Borough of Hillingdon would be advertising soon for an Education Officer who they hoped to have in post in April. It was a very positive meeting as the project is so neat and well balanced and everyone is excited it is already up and running so quickly.

Lottery Heritage Fund