Cumbria Wildlife Trust is planning some work to go on over the summer on Lowick Common nature reserve. Clearing of some of the paths will happen once the bracken starts closing in. This should make more of the site open for people to use later into the season. We are going to prioritise the statutory footpaths on the site and do others from there.
We will also be doing some pulling of the Himalayan Balsam on the northern end of the site. The balsam seeds are carried in water courses and streams and so they collect and grow in the lowest areas of the Common. This work needs to be carried out as it is an incredibly fast colonising plant and will take over areas if not dealt with regularly. We normally try and do two dates of removing the shoots, one in the middle of its season and another a few weeks later to get any bits we missed the first time round.
We have been thinking about what to do with the large amounts of bracken on the nature reserve. Lowick Common is well known in the area for the huge swathes of bracken that cover it, and the problems this plant causes for getting round the site. Some bracken stands can be good for wildlife (particularly some butterfly species, like fritillaries, in the south of the county) but in large, dense amounts it is a problem. Once it grows so dense, nothing will grow underneath and a lot of plant diversity is lost, along with ground nesting opportunities for birds such as skylarks, wheatear and curlew.
As a result of this Cumbria Wildlife Trust are going to be working with a Cumbrian company to clear bracken off parts of the Common this summer. The idea is for this to be done every year until the bracken starts getting depleted. It should mean that more plants get a chance to grow on the site and reduce the dominance of the bracken.
Ash dieback disease
The other work that we will be doing is looking at the health of the ash trees on the reserve. Ash dieback disease is now prevalent across the area and it can kill ash trees in a short space of time. This disease will no doubt have a big effect on woodlands throughout Cumbria and the UK, and CWT need to make sure that the trees on our reserve are safe from causing damage.
We will inspect the trees (particularly along the A5092) and may need to take trees down safely in the autumn/winter season to lessen the risk. Where trees pose no risk to the public, we will let nature take its course.
Would you like to volunteer?
If you have any queries about work being carried out or want to enquire about volunteering then please feel free to get in touch with Pete Jones who is the Reserves Officer in charge of Lowick Common. Contact number is 01539 816300.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lowick Common
Lowick Common was gifted to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust in 2018.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust is the only voluntary organisation devoted solely to the conservation of the wildlife and wildplaces of Cumbria.
Thanks to Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund and Colin Aldred at Aerial Artwork you can take a virtual tour of Lowick Common.
You can find out more about the nature reserve and the conservation work by the trust on the Cumbria Wildlife trust web page for Lowick Common Nature Reserve.