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Five-year plan for Gobions

View of Gobions from south west across the pond. J.P.Neale 1818. Courtesy of HCRO
View of Gobions from south west across the pond. J.P.Neale 1818. Courtesy of HCRO
A five-year plan for Gobions Woodland, focusing on nature conservation and historical restoration has been drawn up. A bid for Heritage Lottery Funding is now being prepared. It’s not yet clear how much the work will cost, but it is hoped that it will cover the appointment of a warden to help manage the historic woodland.

Consultants from Landscape Design Associates of Peterborough, LDA, have surveyed the site and have affirmed the historical and ecological importance of the 18th century gardens, laid out by Charles Bridgeman. LDA has now outlined proposals for the partial restoration of the Bridgeman Gardens.

Details of those proposals have been presented to a meeting of supporters of Gobions Woodland Trust. Details of the proposals are contained in the latest Gobions annual report.

According to Michael Jonas, a trustee of the Trust, the twin objectives of both nature conservation and interpretation of the historic gardens, were equally important.

“Funding for up to 75% of the costs will be requested from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with matching funding from other grant-giving bodies, voluntary labour and a public appeal,” he said.

And Mr Jonas confirmed that for future continuity and continuing good management, the wood and the Trust would come under the wing of the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

During the meeting when the details were shown to Friends of Gobions Woodland Trust, speakers fielded a number of questions. The following is a list of the main questions and answers taken from the session.

Q: How long will the partial restoration take and roughly how much will it cost. A: We anticipate a five-year programme. The Heritage Lottery Fund has different procedures depending on whether the sum applied for is more or less that half a million pounds. It is probable that we would be on the higher side: this would depend on the extent of the final scheme, the matching funding raised and firmer cost estimates.

Q: If you clear trees around the canal, Time lawn, etc, what percentage of trees in total will be felled? A: A very small percentage. Good woodland management might dictate felling trees even if there were no historical features to be revitalised, to let sunlight in, etc. As usual each year, we will plant many more trees than are felled.

Q: Will the woods still be peaceful and tranquil, or can we expect a vast increase in the number of visitors? A: The wood is gaining more interest in academic circles and we would expect more visits from specialists in ecology and Bridgeman, and access to some parts will be easier for the disabled, but we believe the increase in numbers of visitors will be hardly noticeable.

Q: Will the proposals damage the bluebells? A: No. We intentionally did not delineate paths in this part of the wood until the historical survey was completed. The new paths will be better defined and enable the bluebells to flourish. Any bluebells disturbed would be replanted nearby.

Q: Will the path alongside the canal be improved? A: Yes. We hope to refurbish most of the paths laid out by Bridgeman in this area of the wood.

Q: I am worried that creating a wooden bridge and a statue of Cleopatra, for example, would encourage vandalism. A: We do not believe that re-establishing the statue of Cleopatra is the best thing to do, though a marker such as a tree at the original site would be a good idea. We are fortunate that the site of the wood does not encourage visits by vandals and maybe a warden would further alleviate the problem.

Q: Are there plans to appoint a warden? A: Yes, we hope to do so. Heritage Lottery Fund rules allow five years of the cost of a warden to be included.

September 24, 2002

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