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  1. 1. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Rothwell Country Park Management Plan 2014-2016 M. Shiloh Covey 13 May 2014
  2. 2. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Aim of Management Plan The aim of this document is to analyze the current condition of Rothwell Country Park’s natural habitat, and how to better incorporate human interaction. The purpose is to seek where improvements can be made regarding habitat quality, access for public use, and restore this previous coal mining area into a wildlife reserves and tourist attraction. The aim is for the main part of these restorations to take place within the next two years with regards to improving this greenspace for the benefit of people and wildlife. This document will go through the different areas present at the site and provide individual objectives as to how these can be managed, and provide a solid guide to future management efforts. Site Description The Rothwell Country Park is a 50 hectare green space located in the southeastern corner of the Leeds district, in between the northern flank of Rothwell town and the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal. Running through it are the main footpaths, the pond trail, and the pithead trail, which runs through a series of sculptures installations commissioned by the Leeds City Counsel. The North side is bordered by a railway track running parallel to the Aire Canal. There are 14 main ponds on the site of various sizes and a vast mount of grassland including a large meadow leading up to the highest point of elevation in the park know as the summit. The majority of wooded area borders the park, however there are clusters of trees throughout. It has three main access points. Two located on the South side at Bullough Lane, and Pickpocket Lane, ant the other on the North side on the walkway crossing the railroad. Legal This site is currently owned by the Leeds City Counsel, and managed in partnership with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Status The site in included in the Rowthwell Conservation area, and is part of a corridor of green spaces in the Lower Aire Valley. Brief History In the middle ages - from 5th to 15th century - this park was part of a vast wooded district used as a royal hunting ground. A more significant part of the parks history came after that when the Rothwell Colliery owned it from 1867 to 1983. The park itself is now on the site of the former “Fanny Pit.” The pit had a railway line branch off the mainline because most coal was moved by rail, and at the peak of moving coal there used to be 3 million coal wagons on the rail network (, 2014).
  3. 3. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Image: In 1983 miners on the afternoon shift at Rothwell Fanny Pit pose for a group photograph (McGough, 1983). "Fanny Pit" started production in 1867 had a second shaft sunken in 1921, which was deepened in 1924. Following its closure in 1983, it became a post-industrial wasteland. Fortunately in the mid 1990's a partnership was formed between local people, Leeds City Council and Groundwork Leeds, which saw a transformation of the area. Over the next 5 years extensive landscaping of the site allowed the land to be carefully reprofiled and tracts of meadow, woodland and wetlands were created. Finally on the 24th of June 2000 Rothwell Country Park opened to the public, providing this corner of Leeds with much needed oasis (, 2014). Land Usage Cultural Since Rothwell Country Park was opened up to the public in 2000 it has been used as a conservation area and green space, not only for plants to re-grow and rehabilitate the ecosystem, but also to establish a relationship with people. This sort of cultural interaction is what is provided here in a few ways. 1. Public - There are an extensive network of paths including a ‘sculpture trail,’ where local artists have installations incorporated within the natural environment. A ‘pond trail,’ as well as various benches along the walking paths and picnic tables are present in order to provide seating and resting areas for the public. Bicycling and bird watching are also common activities found here. 2. Educational – This area is also open to school groups to come and gain first hand environmental education experience, as well as university students conducting studies of the area. However there is no formal educational service run through the park. Important Areas to Evaluate 1. Size – This 50 hectare park space is relatively large and provides the space for a multitude of different activities and habitats. Suburbs and roadways surround it, which makes it an ideal location as this makes access to the park much easier. The
  4. 4. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 River Aire runs through it on the North side of the railway, and North of that is more green space which makes it a good pathway for animal activity. 2. Naturalness – Due to the fact that the park used to be a mine site, the evidence of human present is easy to see. A large gravel area remains near the railroad where vegetation has not been able to grow back and some brick shafts remain there even though they are mostly filled in. Other human features include gravel pathways and cut trails for walking, bicycling, and even horseback riding. Older growth still exists around the edge of the gravel pit and along pathways, establishing a good base for future rehabilitation. 3. Fragility – Coal mining activities had a harsh toll with the erosion of trees in the park and the remaining old growth is something that needs to be preserved. With an increased amount of visitors, young trees may be at risk if people venture off paths into the surrounding natural area, trampling on the young growth. The main risk to the lakes is pollution from visitors, and the areas of wetland are one of the smaller natural features in the park and are generally very susceptible changes in their surrounding environment. These have to be monitored very closely to ensure they remain a healthy habitat for the organisms they sustain. 4. Potential Value – The value of the site is high for reasons such as, location close to the public, variety of different habitats, and large size. However, there are still areas that need improvement both naturally and for human use in order to increase its value. 5. Intrinsic Value – This site also has high intrinsic value due to its various of natural ecosystems, making it a good place for dog walking, joggers, bicyclers, birdwatchers and more. Past Management Gravel Site Very little management has been done to this area where the former ‘Fanny Pit’ was located. It remains as a large flat gravel field with little to no vegetation growing within it and rubble and debris such ads bricks and chunks of cement from the former mine still remain. Grassland ,Woodland, and Scrub During the initial transformation of the park from 1995 to 2000, local community groups, the Leeds City Counsel, and Groundwork Leeds worked on the reconstructing of meadows, and the remaining woodlands and scrub areas. Also, walking trails were constructed and a sculpture path was included in the rehabilitation of the park. However, due to lack of funding after the park was opened to the public in 2000, not much has been done to manage these areas. Ponds and Wetlands From 1995 to 2000 a lot of work was done to the ponds in the park by local community groups and Groundwork Leeds including the stabilizing of wetlands and banks, as well as constructing pathways surrounding the ponds to encourage and control foot traffic.
  5. 5. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Image: Map of Rothwell Country Park (Leeds City Counsil, 2009). Briefing and Aims and Objectives for this Site The final objective of this management plan is to improve Rothwell Country Park through management creating a landscape that benefits both people and plants. However, maintain a sustainable habitat for the both the native plant species and animal life already living there. Due to the fact that there are so many different habitats and environments within Rowthwell Country Park, the best way to manage these is to separate them and develop objectives independently. Each of these areas are described on the chart at the end of this section in order to better understand what exactly is being included in each of the stated environments. Gravel Site The gravel site is the last distinct remaining area in the park that still clearly shows the presence of the colliery. Rubble from the site still remains here and plants have not been able to grow on the unfertile and gravel covered ground that remains. This makes it not only aesthetically unpleasing, but with the railway running very close along side of it, this area proves to be a health and safety hazard. Objective: The objective here would be to remove the remaining rubble, including old bricks and cement. The soil here is not very deep so it is suggested that this area be turned into a meadow or grassland planted with native plant species. To further attract people to this area this new field could be used as a recreational area for activities such as
  6. 6. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 football with the addition of small goal posts for public use. Furthermore, to ensure the safety of people using this area it is suggested that a fence be put up blocking the railway so the public will not wander to close to this area. Grassland The areas covered by grassland are essential for grazing animals and a variety of different organism that require this type of environment to survive. It also makes a great area for the public to experience the natural feel the park has to offer without threatening more delicate plant species or trampling down wooded areas. Objective: The objective with the grasslands is to make the area a place where people and nature can co-exist in the least intrusive way. Pathways will be improved that already exist in these areas, as well as new ones added in order to allow people to venture trough the areas without feeling the need to explore out into the grassland areas themselves. In some areas picnic benches will be added in order to encourage public presence in more controlled spaces while still maintaining naturalness of other areas. Woodland and Scrub Woodlands and Scrub areas are very important areas to sustain the organisms and native life in the park. These are some of the areas that need the most protecting however hold a very high value regarding the attractiveness of the park. Objective: The objective here is to go through and remove non-native and invasive plant species from these areas and begin to replant species native to this area. Moreover, the clearing of some ground cover and scrubs will help get sunlight to new-planted species and encourage their growth. In order to protect the existing old growth and allow new growth to reach maturity pathways that contact or run through these areas should be clearly marked and well maintained. Signs could even be put up discouraging the public from venturing into these areas due to the fragility of the young trees. Ponds and Wetlands Ponds and wetlands are the most fragile of the different ecosystems found in Rothwell Country Park. However, they are very crucial for the very specific species that dwell there such as amphibians and the popular dragonflies. This means they need proper management in order to be protected. Objectives: In order to protect these areas the pond banks should be regularly maintains and monitored in order to ensure the health of residing amphibians. Furthermore, organisms here should be monitored to check for rising and falling number in species, including dragonflies, various birds, and amphibians such as frogs. Once again maintenance of pathways around the ponds help drive public interest with easier access and discourage them from venturing into the natural grown area.
  7. 7. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Area of Site Description Gravel Site The area that used to be the ‘Fanny Pit’ site. Large open area covered in a mixture of gravel, old bricks, cement debris and other rubble ruminants from the past colliery. Has little to no vegetation on it and is located next to the railway. Grassland Classified as any open area with the majority covered by short to medium grasses (0.5 meters). Includes meadows and taller less groomed areas. Woodland and Scrub Mixture of mature to young trees and bushes. Can be dense in some areas and sparse in others. Often found surround grasslands and the gravel pit. Ponds and Wetlands Includes all small to medium sized water bodies and their surrounding wetlands. Wetlands include marsh or boggy areas that are waterlogged in all seasons and contain peat, tall grasses, and other vegetation that thrives under these specific conditions. Annual Management In order to keep the park in a positive state that continues to promote a healthy relationship between people and the environment, annual management needs to be established. The park is currently owned by the Leeds City Counsel, however the “Friends of Rothwell Country Park” was formed in 2010 due to the lack of previous management, and this group is one example of a good way to manage the park through donations and volunteer opportunities. Annual areas that will need managing are: - Maintaining and enhancing woodland habitats o Removal of non-native species o Shrub removal o Planting of trees and native species - Maintaining and enhancing ponds and wetland habitats o Bank side maintenance o Animal surveying o Water level monitoring - Path maintenance o Clearing debris from paths o Pathway reconstruction o Additions of new walkways o Maintenance of park entrance and car park
  8. 8. 200818661 SOEE2401 May. 13, 2014 Word Count: 2031 References McGough, D. (1983). Rothwell Fanny Pit. [image] Available at: [Accessed 9 May. 2014]. Leeds City Counsil, (2009). Welcome to Rothwell Country Park. [image] Available at: [Accessed 9 May. 2014]., (2014). Rothwell Country Park Yorkshire Wildlife Trust | Love Yorkshire, Love Wildlife. [online] Available at: park [Accessed 9 May. 2014].