Craig Ifield Park Ranger, Parks & Foreshore

About Craig:

Craig Ifield, Park Ranger, Parks & Foreshore

Craig Ifield is a Park Ranger at Adur & Worthing Councils. His main role is to maintain our parks and open spaces. This includes working with green space volunteer community groups across Adur and Worthing helping them with various projects and supporting them in developing their groups.

Craig's background is with the The Conservation Volunteers charity as a project officer working to enable communities in Adur and Worthing to improve their health and wellbeing.

You can read Craig's current blog posts on this page below:

See also: Parks



3rd March 2021: Five benefits of exercising outside in our parks and public spaces

2021-03-03 - Adam Scott

This week, the Park Rangers blog has been written by Adam Scott, a Rangers team member who has worked for the Councils for 16 years - with the majority of his time spent in parks and playgrounds.

He discusses the benefits of getting back outside to exercise during the lighter evenings, and as Government restrictions are set to ease over the Spring and Summer...

Hi everyone, my name's Adam Scott I'm a Park Ranger in the Worthing area.

I really enjoy trying to make the experiences people have in our parks and open spaces good ones, whether that’s working with community groups to improve them, or consulting the public about new ideas and equipment that we can provide to enhance people’s quality of life in our local area.

Exercising during the pandemic has been tricky with gyms being closed, other lockdown restrictions, and the weather being uninviting at best - so it’s been hard at times to want to take that step outside. But with Spring just around the corner and glimpses of warmer weather, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

From March 8, people will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person outside their household. With that in mind here are five reasons to be excited about getting back outside in the fresh air, and getting fit and healthy, ready for the summer.

1. Lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels

Studies have shown that physical activity outdoors lowers a person's blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, exercise outdoors feels less strenuous than similar exercise indoors.

2. Help with insomnia

When you exercise outdoors, you get fresh air which often helps to alleviate insomnia. Regular exercise and fresh air can help you to fall asleep faster and also improve the quality of your sleep.

3. Sunshine

While training outdoors you can also enjoy the benefits of sunshine, which causes our bodies to produce Vitamin D. This Vitamin has multiple roles, including promoting healthy bones and teeth and supporting lung function and cardiovascular health.

4. It’s free

Outdoor workouts are often completely free of charge. You can use parks, public spaces, outdoor gyms and ball courts without spending a penny.

5. You can try something new

Take your workout to a new level and try something new. Create a whole new routine or try new activities such as Yoga or a calisthenics workout.

Worthing Borough Council is investing in the Windsor Lawns outside gym equipment - but we need your help.

We are carrying out an online survey to help us decide what type of equipment the community would like installed. Whether it’s more calisthenics or traditional outdoor gym equipment, an area to do ground workouts with dedicated graphics to enhance the experience.

Use this link to have your say:

Photo: Visitors to Goring seafront taking a walk at sunset

2021-03-03 - Goring seafront at sunset

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24th February 2021: Almost 50 new trees will be planted in Brooklands Park - here are the benefits

This week I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the work that will be taking place at Brooklands Park as of next week. We will be undertaking the planting of 46 trees along the fenceline that is shared with Western Road, adding a variation of trees that will provide the park with more shelter, colour and wildlife.

These trees will contend with pollution, strong winds and salt water as well as a varied soil quality - but we are confident these magnificent organisms are up to the test and will act as safe havens for local wildlife.

Because of the location at which these trees are to be planted, they will also act as sound barriers and will block the noise and pollution from the busy Western Road, and the industrial estate. In order for these to make an impact right away we have chosen large, standard trees - some being 80 litre root balls. It will still take time for the trees to reach their full beneficial potential, however as the years go by they will filter the air and absorb carbon from the surrounding area.

2021-02-24 - Trees ready for planting

The tree-planting work will be carried out by the Rangers team. We will be social distancing, and working only with Friends of Brooklands Committee members. We are sorry that no one else can help, as I know many others are keen to help us with these projects, but there will be more opportunities at later dates - so please contact the Friends of Brooklands to be kept up to date with calls for help when the time is right.

These trees are just a small number of trees that allow for there to be a connecting patch work across the Adur and Worthing area. Brooklands, in terms of ecology, plays a huge role in linking the coastline to the South Downs, and we work closely with Sompting Parish Council and Sompting Estates to ensure these patch works work cohesively and have the maximum ecological impact.

If you are interested in helping in future projects or wish to carry out your own tree planting next season, please contact the Park Rangers or for Brooklands specifically, contact the Friends of Brooklands.

See also: How to become a tree warden - on our Springforward page

2021-02-24 - Trees waiting to be planted

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17th February 2021: The importance of bird boxes for wildlife over Spring and throughout Winter

This week I'd like to highlight the excellent work done by the 'Friends of Brooklands', who are helping to transform Brooklands Park in their own way helping to work inside and outside of Adur & Worthing Councils' Brookland Park Masterplan.

The group has been active for some time now and have conducted various activities, from Halloween events in the amphitheater, to maintenance of the park, to planting trees as well as seeding the wildflower meadow. They have remained active during these difficult times we all are facing, and have led their own project involving gaining bird boxes for the site, along with well feeders. They have around 58 boxes that they and the Rangers will put up. I would like to thank the Men in Sheds Lancing and Sompting group for making the boxes for us, and Worthing Birding and Wildlife Group for bringing the idea forward.

2021-02-17 - Bird boxes and feeders

As we start to welcome Spring, now is the time for homes for birds and bats to be built and put up. There is never a shortage of small birds, in particular robins and various song birds, at Brooklands Park. Once the new boxes are up, we will be sharing maps and information on where they are, and creating a trail to allow visitors to wander the park and spot the varied birds that inhabit it.

These boxes will provide a home for many mating birds, and for young chicks to thrive in before they are ready to make their own way into the world. They will act as a shelter for the many birds that may struggle to build a nest, or those seeking shelter. The boxes act as replacements for holes in trees that many small birds such as robins, would otherwise nest in. They may also bring in more birds to the site, as where there is an abundance of food and shelter wildlife thrives.

There are many other functions to these boxes other than just allowing for the fletching of chicks. Some species of bird lose 78 per cent of their numbers during the winter months, and these types of boxes, even if just used for a few days or which act as temporary shelter, help birds fight back against these losses. The boxes allow more time for birds to roost, helping them to keep warm in the winter and be protecting them from predators.

Another thing to note is that when these boxes are up you may see different types of behaviour from the different birds that wish to use them. Many variations of the tit family will be seen hovering around the entrance or pecking away. This is not necessarily the bird taking much interest in the box, but usually means a male is showing off and trying to attract a female. Nuthatches often enlarge the entrance then refill it to their liking with mud, making it the perfect fit just for them.

If you see some of the Friends of Brooklands or the Rangers out this week putting up boxes please do not be alarmed, and please do not remove them or tamper with them. Each box is being placed in an area and place best suited for the bird type that they are built for, maximising their impact.

See also:

2021-02-17 - Bird boxes

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3rd February 2021: Looking after our playgrounds

One of the biggest aspects of the Rangers role is looking after the 42 playgrounds across Adur and Worthing. Our team is trained in routine and operational inspections, and we inspect all playgrounds once a week for any dangers that may be present - ensuring they are within health and safety guidelines and meet the set criteria.

This is a crucial part of our role, and due to dealing with different equipment for different ages, it can be tricky to ensure it all meets the standards which have been changing since the 1950s. Physical safety is important for children's wellbeing.

We also know that playing is linked to children's mental wellbeing. It is integrated into society and included in children's general learning. Play allows for creative thinking as well as problem solving. The simple act of play increases positive engagement, enjoyment and satisfaction as well as revitalisation.

Various studies have shown time and time again that playing allows children to create their own solution when faced with a problem. Something as simple as how to get from A to B on a climbing frame - it is their choice. This solving may seem very basic, but there is cognitive thinking taking place, which links to academic problem solving.

Physical play is also linked, with no surprise, to physical wellbeing and development. Play can be a form of exercise for children, 20 minutes a day allows for healthy development. Children can also get their source of vitamin D by playing outside, which helps to build the immune system and reduces depression and anxiety. This simple act of playing outdoors has also been linked to decreased confusion and anger.

Another benefit, which is much needed right now, is that it means children can release pent-up energy, tensions and frustrations. This allows for more focus in classes including home-schooling classes. It also sends signals through the brain that creates a calmer mindset.

The Green Mind Theory links being outdoors to reducing stress and anxiety. It sends reactions through the body to make you happier and means you are more engaged with what is in front of you, so in a sense you are switching off from the stresses in life for a moment.

I know that's difficult to do right now with limited time outdoors, but I hope this means we appreciate the time we do have outside more. Utilise the opportunities you get to their full potential.

When using playgrounds, practise social distancing and use hand sanitiser. They are not the only place that play can take place, so use the wonderful green spaces across Adur and Worthing and allow children to create their own games.

2021-02-03 - Playground swing (Pixabay - 1188132)

2021-02-03 - Children running on a path in a park (Pixabay - 5630669)

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27th January 2021: Coppicing

This week the Rangers were able to carry out the last coppicing of the season. It's been a strange season, as there's only been a short window of time to carry out these essential works for the managed sites, which is a clear sign that climate change is happening. Leaves and nesting did not stop until late September, with leaves and budding already appearing in December and January.

This short season has been problematic for birdlife and getting the work carried out. However, this wonderful ancient management tool never fails to amaze me with how important it is and what wildlife it encourages for its inhabitants.

We sorted old stools, cutting them to prevent them rotting through as well as clearing areas that are well out of their usable rotation. Coppicing is all about having usable timber, usually on a seven year rotation, so having a stool that is older than 12 years growth is pointless.

The stool itself can be hundreds of years old, but it's all about the growth that is usable now. Stools need to be cut low and at a slight angle to allow for water to run off. This prevents old stools from rotting out, therefore preserving the habitat. Clearance areas allow for not only new growth from the stools but also for many of the dormant spring bulbs to come through.

We have seen in Whitebeam Woods that Bluebells come up in areas that have not been cleared for some 10 to 15 years. This means that they have laid dormant this whole time waiting for their opportunity, which has now been given. This will instil new life in varied insects and pollinators in the springtime.

Photo: Coppice nearly ready to be cut

2020-01-15 - Coppice nearly ready to be cut

Photo: Coppice at about one year

2020-01-15 - Coppice at about one year

Photo: Coppice at about two years

2020-01-15 - Coppice at about two years

When carrying out the work we were lucky enough to see and hear two of the UK's very significant and percilar birds. First, being able to hear the laughter and rattling of the Woodpecker, letting us know that we have entered their territory. These amazing animals are able to experience G-forces that no human ever could or has done. They also use their extra long tongues to wrap around their brain to prevent any damage.

2020-01-27 - Great spotted woodpecker (Pixabay - 915417)

Second, was the magnificent bark-toned Treecreeper with its white underbelly, scuttering around the Turkey Oak unlike any other small bird in its search for insects.

2020-01-27 - Eurasian Treecreeper (Pixabay - 270277)

It's seeing these sorts of walks of life that show to me that this type of woodland management really does work and I hope that it will have similar results in Malthouse Meadow which is starting to have managed coppice also.

If you wish to know more about coppicing please let me know, also please don't forget this weekend it's the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch so please take an hour to look out the window or go to the local park and note down what you spot.

Contact Craig on craig.ifield@adur-worthing.gov.uk

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20th January 2021: The Big Garden Birdwatch

As we get deeper into winter, we start to see more of small birds fluttering around in the leafless trees and starting to be more fearless in their hunt for food and shelter. Therefore I would like to take the opportunity this week to highlight the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ run by RSPB which is carried out 29th-31st January.

This is a project that really helps the charity and ecologist alike to find out about the disruption of common and rare species of birds across the UK, ultimately seeing if there are changes in patterns or any new discoveries. This is something that is vital to their works and understanding the UK climate, and something which can not be done without the help of the public.

It’s something that everyone can take part in and can be done from your own home or in a public park. Take one hour of your day and record the number and the types of birds that you see (there are many helpful ID charts on the RSPB website that can help beginners or if you see something you are unsure of).

This is a great thing to incorporate when out for a walk or allowing yourself some time to relax and reconnect with the world around you. For some it might even highlight what in your garden is working well for the birdlife, what is it that they actually like to feed off, or what is it that they actually wish to use as shelter. Many small birds in the UK have their own personalities and you can really see them come out in this hour of watching and witnessing their minds working to figure out what they need to do.

2021-01-20 - RSPB Birdwatch

The watch is for only birds that land in the garden and not those that fly over, simply keep a tally of how many and what you see. A good idea is to set a birdfeeder or simply a handful of plain peanuts out for the birds to come to you and see them in action. This watch has been running for 40 years, allowing some 3 million hours of data to be gathered. It’s allowed for sad news of declining numbers and changing of patterns to be noticed that would have otherwise gone a miss. It also highlights to individuals what birds actually wish to use, such as Ivy which this time of year is a great food source for many small birds due to being one of the only plants left in bud.

It is these winter months that garden birds will want and need to feed the most, less so in the spring as food is plentiful. Now is the time to lend a helping hand to these beautiful collections of life.

I would like to say a quick thank you to the Friends of Brooklands Park for launching their birdbox programme, allowing for the public to donate boxes to Brooklands that will be put up later this year when bird families will be started and chicks will need a place to stay. They have connected with the community brilliantly and secured wonderful boxes that will be a great aid to the local wildlife and may also encourage more life from further afield.

Unleash the twitcher in you and get to know what life is out in your own garden, surrounding areas or small greenspaces that you overlook. This is a great way to spend an hour or a nice lesson to all of us to learn more about what we take for granted every day. See their disquishing flourishing of colours, there is so much more to our garden friends then we realise.

If you wish to know more information or help, please contact myself, craig.ifield@adur-worthing.gov.uk

2021-01-20 - Robin

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6th January 2021: Time to turn over a new leaf

As we start a New Year it is time for resolutions and trying new things, many of which involve personal goals and personal health. This year I would like to have a look at some other achievements that we can set to help environmental health and our surrounding communities. There are many ways that we, as individuals, can make changes to help the natural world and many of them you can do in your own gardens.

One of the best things to do is to allow some patches of your garden to go wild. This will help support the work we're doing in the Parks team, making the wonderful greenspaces around us as bio-rich as possible. There is a rich patchwork of private gardens and balconies that break 'green corridors' and 'green highways' up. It has been recorded for instance in an urban setting that as much as 85% of tree coverage is in private gardens. This shows just how much land is used for private gardens and how much of an impact your garden can have on the wider community, so let some go wild if you can. Plant wildflower seeds, leave some grass long all year round. You can leave part of the garden boggy and do your bit to help protect the environment.

Another fantastic thing you could do would be to put up a simple bird box or bat box in your garden. Or if you can't do that, what about leaving cuttings in a pile at the fenceline of your property? This will allow birds to use them for nests, and insects will also use it as a food source and it will allow for a small habitat to thrive.

If you can cut some holes in the bottom of your fence, this is a brilliant help for hedgehogs, because it means they can roam more freely and not get trapped in gardens, and it may also provide a helpful escape from predators. We know from a recent report by Rewilding Britain that animals are having to compete for resources much more and in different habitats which some are not built to survive in.

Rewilding is one of the most important tools we have to fight back against climate change and manage land in a more sustainable manner. There are a huge amount of benefits in rewilding from helping store stormwater, preventing floods, filtering air, adding biodiversity and even enriching soils. But you don't need to rewild your whole garden, but, if we all allowed a small part to go wild, we can truly make a difference.

As always there are many things that can be done for everyday choices that will also help fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions. You can look on various websites to look at what your current footprint is, like on WWF. A great way of tackling your carbon footprint is by 'offsetting', and, even better, this is something we can help with in the Parks department! Through the Parks department you can donate a tree to offset your emissions, and we can choose a site near you, as well as what will best be suited for your local environment. We can talk through all the possible options with you to offset your footprint in the most beneficial way. Plus, if you really want to go the extra mile, you can also always join a volunteering group and maintain habitats that can again offset your own emissions!

There is lots that can be done to turn the tide against climate change and it can feel hard to know where to start and what is best for you or your garden. Please feel free to get in touch and we can help. It is only by working with all of the community that we can really change the world, do not feel that if you are not near a greenspace or you don't have a garden that we cannot help, we are always on hand for advice. This is all our planet, this is the only one we have and we depend on it for everything. Together we can make a change and it is only together that we will be able to make the needed change.

2021-01-06 - A brown leaf against a blue sky

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16th December 2020: Thank you to all the 'friends of' parks groups

As another year is drawing to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the 'friends of' parks groups that have carried out works this year despite the challenges. As a result we have been able to plant some 40,000 bulbs, 206 meters of hedgerow as well as clearing invasive species, tiding parks and showing some love towards these wondrous places.

I would like to leave you this year with some advice on the process of how to set up a 'friends of' group, so we can start more work together in the New Year and transform even more of our parks.

I have spoken about 'friends of' groups a lot this year and it is something that is very beneficial to local communities, greenspaces and the wider area around them. A 'friends of' group is simply a group from the community of any size, (usually needing a minimum of 4 really), who wish to look after a local park or greenspace. This group will carry out activities on the site, allowing them to run events, carry out conservation activities, do litter picks, planting and simply make the park a community hub. There are many roles within a 'friends of' group, and include someone wishing to do clearance planting, someone wishing to plan events, and someone who's able to keep minutes at meetings supporting the group in their paperwork, or helping offer educational activities. It is not all about ground maintenance work of a greenspace.

From the outside you might think, there's a lot of work to do in order to be an 'official friends of' group, but you'll get your own park ranger to help you! The ranger team will allocate your new group a ranger depending on where your greenspace falls. A ranger will be your main point of contact for work in the park, and will be able to aid you in the work from the very start, helping write up the consultation, all the way through applying for grants, as well as helping on the ground and helping transform the area. They are on hand for help and advice, supporting with Parks department resources, as well as using our knowledge of how tasks are best executed to achieve the best outcome.

A great way to try out a 'friends of' group is to set up a regular meet up in the park as a group of volunteers and invite a ranger. To do this, just contact the parks department! The rangers can then start talks and help with work, from suggestions of improvements and enhancements to starting the process of making the 'friends of' group official! You'll need to decide which of your volunteers will be the Chairperson, Treasure and a Secretary. The group will vote on who'll fill each title at your Annual General Meeting. These are all formalities that allow for the group to access grants and recognition, and these processes will be done step by step with the ranger team.

A great organisation to get in contact with regarding how to make a 'friends of' group is Green Tides. Green Tides link all the volunteering groups together and help communication, sharing solutions to potential challenges and general information. We also work closely with this group, and will be doing even more so in the New Year unlocking the full potential of this network of volunteers, and bringing all these wonderful spaces together creating a much healthier community and environment.

Together we can all make a change to the places that we love.

Thank you once again to all the groups that have worked so hard this year and I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

Photos: Friends of groups and their work ...

2020-12-16 - Friends of Heene Cemetery

2020-12-16 - Friends of in a field

2020-12-16 - Friends of up the hills

2020-12-16 - Friends of in a park with a Green Flag 2020-21 award flag

2020-12-16 - Friends of evening meet up

2020-12-16 - Walkway on Shoreham Beach

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9th December 2020: Tree-rrific Tree Planting

I'm happy to announce the exciting works that the Ranger team will soon be carrying out in the Sompting area. We are going to be working closely with Sompting Big Local. We have already started some of the works, and due to finish in the New Year. We're going to be working on a fantastic and existing new project to aid the Sompting area, creating a greener community as well as increasing the community assets of their green spaces.

This project covers the Sompting area, including the greenspaces of Halewick Lane (a gateway to Lancing Ring), Hamble Recreational Ground, Malthouse Meadow and Sompting Recreation Ground. Sompting Big Local have delivered huge benefits to these areas and provided community events, help fund playgrounds which were match funded by Adur and Worthing Councils, as well as supporting sheep grazing on Malthouse Meadow.

Sompting Big Local's latest project is to expand urban forestry in the Sompting area. An 'Urban Forest' is all tree life found in urban settings. Starting with Sompting Recreation ground, the project involves planting some 30 standard trees. We have decided to plant the largest of these, the benefits of large trees are exponential. The larger they are the more beneficial they are, when you take in all factors, not only carbon absorption. This project will see a mixture of, Beech, Cherry, Lime and Oaks planted on the site, alongside 60 Dogwood, that have reached maturity. The Dogwood will provide community events such as Dogwood weaving and wreath making.

The trees being planted will be a great help to the site, not only to allow for more shade in the summer months and some shelter in the winter. It also means more autumn colours adding to the aesthetics of this great location. It will benefit the community in various different ways, like increasing water drainage, purifying the air in the park, and stabilising the soil, as well as reducing local peoples' stress and anxiety. According to studies done in the town of Halifax, Canada, it is stated, “for every $1 spent on trees, they gain $8 back” from other areas like conservation, flooding and wellbeing that would otherwise need investing in too. This shows just how important the urban forest is to local communities.

Unfortunately, the Councils have very little capital set aside for trees, and therefore it is down to applying to grants, 'Friends Of' park groups and charitable groups such as Sompting Big Local. These are the routes accessible to us, to apply for funds and help to change our communities for the better. The Rangers are on hand to help write these grants, showcase what can be done, support in people-power, and help organise events on Council owned land.

I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you Sompting Big Local for all the great work they have done. Working in partnership with them has allowed the Rangers and me to stay connected with these communities. Adur & Worthing Councils have match funded this project, and added to the people-power, planting the trees and advising what will be suited in this area. These additions will create a space that is more than just a field, but will still allow for its main activities to take place.

We hope these developments will encourage more interaction with the community of Sompting at Sompting Recreation Ground, Harriet Johnson Center and Malthouse Meadow.

This project of improvements will be carried out by a mixture of Adur & Worthing Councils, Sompting Parish Councils and volunteers.

If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch with craig.ifield@adur-worthing.gov.uk

Together we can positively impact climate change, enhance our greenspace and create greenspaces that will be a sanctuary for wildlife and the communities that surround them.

See also the Sompting Big Local website.

2020-12-09 - Tree planting in Sompting

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2nd December 2020: Highdown's New Pergola

Another week has passed and it is now starting to feel a little more like winter, unlucky for us, as we need to start wrapping up, but good for the world around us, kick starting natural processes.

This has been a good week for the Ranger team, as we have been working in conjunction with the Highdown Gardens Team. We have set aside a week to help the team prepare for their opening, (aiming for Spring next year) and building the site a pergola. This will be used to help enhance the beauty of the stunning surroundings of this natural heritage site, fitting in with the award winning settings.

The pergola is to support the rose beds in the gardens and create a featured walk in the beautiful setting of this wonderful heritage site.

The rose has been the plant of choice for many pergolas in the past, this one following suit, allowing the plant to encapsulate the pathway in beautiful colours and smells, without interfering. Pergolas are also a great way to allow climbing plans to thrive without plant roots digging into brickwork of pavements and walls. Climbing plants are excellent for building hedge-like structures, which provides vital resources for birds and pollinators. They provide hanging fruit, nectar and food sources, while making room for landscaping and foot traffic. In many places today they are simply done for aesthetics, but they are a great aid to wildlife as they offer another way in which we can help nature, and not make everywhere tarmac and bricks.

The use of pergolas for fruit can be traced back to Egyptian and Roman time. Many of which were used to support the growth of grape vines, for the manufacturing of wine. They became a feature seen more and more during the Victorian era, as a form of a shade structure.

However, there's much more than meets the eye when it comes to these simple and beautiful wooden structures.

They were used for many years by some as shelters, using the structure to support temples and allow for shade along walkways. They have also been used in Italy and France as art installations, having great vast structures supporting exotic fruits. This is still very much the case today in some heritage gardens across the UK.

The old pergola at Highdown had reached end of life, but the roses and the new plant life still needed support for their growth, hence the placement of the new structure. This has been a great project for the Rangers, allowing us to see the developments of this beautiful landscape, and helping transform a greenspace into a community asset and a haven for wildlife.

We've also arranged similar projects like the building of willow domes in Buckingham Park using the understanding of structures to support nature and giving us the opportunity to rethink 'waste' material produced from things like coppicing or tree work.

Photos: Building the new pergola at Highdown Gardens

2020-12-02 - Wood for the new Pergola at Highdown Gardens

2020-12-02 - Building the new Pergola at Highdown Gardens - making sure the joists are level

2020-12-02 - Building the new Pergola at Highdown Gardens

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25th November 2020: A Warm Winter

As another week passes and we take another deeper dive into the winter months, I wanted to take this time and reflect on some changes in the environment around us, one of the biggest I have seen for years. This change is the lack of changes.

There is no doubt that it is getting wetter and that winter is really taking hold, with trees losing their leaves and wildlife fighting over food. However, temperatures are regularly staying above freezing and in fact it's been 'warm' (seasonally so.) I am very fearful of how mild the season has been and I am seeing confusion in many of our parks amongst the wildlife. This is becoming more normal in our seasons, that the last few months of the year are wetter but not colder than temperatures we have in January and February, which are harsher. To me this is a clear sign that climate change is happening and we can see these effects in our parks. It is down to all of us to see these changes and try and aid the environment best we can, or lose it.

This season has been sending alarm bells off in my mind, as I have started to see many changes that I would expect to see in the spring happening already in our parks. This time of year is usually the start of the coppicing season, however the leaves of many hazels have yet to fall, and we're starting to see buds for the next batch of leaves emerging. Our team has also seen bulbs starting to shoot, and various other activities that are making the season seem out of sync from what we would expect.

This is not a problem in itself, this has been seen far and wide in nature significantly last year, but this year seems much more prominent. To us this may seem delightful, not having to wear as many layers, but for animals this causes damaging confusion on processes.

Many animals will continue to try and mate, build nests or scout for new homes, due to temperatures not dropping. This means wildlife is not building nests properly, they will over mate and breed, or breed unsuccessfully and waste energy. They will also compete for materials that they will not need, building nests which will never be used, or battle for territory they will never need. These animals will not go through their seasonal changes and will begin to exhaust themselves. If we skip a season, then years of adaptation are being challenged, with wildlife unable to adapt quickly enough.

Wildlife is not able to properly prepare itself for winter, and if there is a sudden cold snap even for a few days or weeks, many will not have winter coats or fat reserves to survive. This will be fatal to wildlife, there will be no defenses to a sudden change in the environment. It is true that wildlife is resilient, but their natures have been developed over millions of years and when climates change so rapidly, they stand little chance against it.

In the Parks department we do not only face the challenge, as the rest of the Councils does, in reaching net zero on carbon emissions by the year 2030, but we also need to adapt the plants that will be resilient to these changes. This means using mixed bulbs, increasing woodland with varied trees and not allowing for certain areas to be dominated by one type of species.

Therefore, some things we do will be trial and error, seeing what works for varied sites, each site is different, each site needs different plants and solutions. As I have mentioned we are ramping up our planting of trees and plants, allowing for more wild areas and letting the millions of years of knowledge of nature be the key to solving these problems.

We must all come together and make the changes needed to protect the environment that we love. I am a firm believer in communities and councils working together. 'Friends of' parks groups are crucial to allowing for these essential works to be carried out. These groups, which I am so thankful for, are an additional resource of knowledge, work force and avenues of grant expenses that are not accessible through just one organisation.

Please get involved in any way you can with local communities if you wish to set up a Friends of group the Rangers are on hand to walk you through these processes and aid you in your visions for your local areas of beauty. We can also help aid and shape parks to reflect the local communities. Thank you once again to all those groups that have helped unlock the potential of sites that would otherwise not be possible.

Photo: A robin sitting on a branch in a tree

2020-11-25 - A robin sitting on a branch in a tree (Pixabay - 78092)

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18th November 2020: Some Tree-mendous Planting

As we've entered planting season, we have the great news that some 150 trees have now arrived at our yard and are ready to be planted. These will be planted over certain sites in Adur and Worthing, which have been identified by our in-house arborist team, who've assessed which sites will most benefit from additional trees. This is a tricky job as there is no set budget for trees, some funds come from charitable donations from groups such as Sompting Big Local and others are from Friends of Groups applying to Woodland Trust for tree packs.

There has been a shift in the focus around trees within the councils over the last few years. Now we're much more proactive in the supply of trees, as opposed to only replacing dying trees, we actively buy standard trees to expand woodland and to use their benefits to aid certain areas. We're not only looking at the carbon capture capabilities of trees (which is vital to combating the changing climate and making sites a carbon sink) but also their water retention capabilities as well as how they aid in enriching biodiversity of our parks.

When working with community groups many have ideas in mind on what they wish to have in the park. We can help guide many of these groups on what would work best for the site, in case some have not taken into consideration maintenance and soil type. We pick trees that are the right trees in the right place, looking and what they will need and how they will benefit the surrounding community and land. The phrase “the right trees in the right place” is being used more and more in the tree world and being followed by parks and ecologist teams alike.

Trees have many uses other than carbon capturing, which is what they are most renowned for, they are one of the best lines of defences against climate change. However, they have many other uses, such as water retention. One of the best examples of this is the willow tree family, acting as a giant sponge and soaking up moisture from the area, preventing flooding. Hazel can be used as a resource for building materials, allowing for fencing to be made locally, using coppices dotted around Adur and Worthing. These do need to be maintained, which many groups such as the Friends of Whitebeam woods in conjunction with Durrington Green Gym (TCV) do a great jobs of. Trees such as oak and beech are great habitats for life, from young trees all the way until their deaths where they provide brilliant dead wood for invertebrates; these are renowned for being the greatest trees at supporting biodiversity.

One of the most unappreciated benefits provided by trees is the process of air filtration, filtering pollutants in the air as well as fixing nitrogen in the soil. Tree root stock makes unusable chemicals in the atmosphere usable in soils to surrounding plants, which supports many different life forms.

There is a need for more trees across the UK, this is in no doubt. It's been estimated that there could be a need of 1.5 billion trees to tackle climate change. However our parks will reach a saturation point where no more trees will be able to fit into sites, and we are planting to replace those that will be dying in the next 10  to 20 years. As mentioned we can assess more tree planting via community groups as well as school and local community interests. Trees can be used for a multitude of reasons to help enhance an area, there are also projects for fruit and nut trees starting to take place allowing for community edible gardens, allowing this to be the primary focus and carbon capture to be secondary.

If you wish to help fight on the front line of climate change then please help out via community groups, help maintain parks and enquire what trees will be best in your parks.

Photo: Some of the trees in our yard ready for planting

2020-11-18 - Some of the trees in our yard ready for planting

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4th November 2020: The Parks Team are Planting!

As winter starts to really take hold and there is a new chill in the air, the Parks team has just finished planting various mixtures of bulbs around our parks.

There have been 5 sites that have been deemed suitable this year round for a mixture of woodland bulbs to be planted. We have planted nearly 40,000 bulbs across the sites by hand, in and around tree lines. This is to add some colour to our parks as well as allow a helping hand to our pollinating friends.

We will also have additional bulbs planted by the special Dutch planting machine as of 11th November and they shall be in and around our parks for a few days, adding more beauty to our lovely parks. I would like to thank the Friends of Marine Gardens for supporting and helping to plant up Marine Gardens, as well as those who were able to join us down in Buckingham Park as the first unofficial official Friends of Buckingham Park activity.

Photo: The parks team planting at Buckingham Park, Shoreham

2020-11-04 - Craig planting

We have planted a mixture of 4 bulbs that are suited for the areas in which they have been planted, dealing with shady moist conditions, wind exposure and being able to deal with high amounts of disruption. The bulbs are as follows:

  • Narcissus cyclamineus which are essentially a variation of the daffodil that does well in wooded areas.They are a beautiful yellow, with grass like stems.
  • Muscari Latiolim, this stands at around 20cm trembling somewhat a bunch of small grapes or like a Hyacinthus, varying in colour including, pinks, purples, whites, blues and sometimes green.
  • Tulip Sylvestris, this is a wild yellow tulip which has oddly the scent of lemon which should grow to the height of around 25cm.
  • Anemone blanda, these are a daisy like plant with around 5 petals in a dish like shape, which vary in colour usually purples, blues and whites.

2020-11-04 - Bulbs

Parks are using a mixture of different varieties of this plant, so may look different or not be uniform, which allows for various uses to different wildlife. This means that they will not only be more aesthetically pleasing due to the new colours added to the parks but will mean that they have a purpose for being there and help enhance the local ecosystem and encourage more woodland species to the area.

As for the machine planting, this will be used to sow a mixture of bulbs that will have 2 flowering periods, meaning there will be two different variations and colours from the same bulb area. This will mean 2 patterns of colours and 2 different variations of life supporting plants, supporting varied species within our parks.

These bulbs link in with our wildflower glades and will connect with the ever growing Adur and Worthing Parks department system of creating more pollination highways within our towns, and joining them to allow easy flight paths for these ever so important wildlife. These must start in our parks, making them a haven for such life. As shown by many ‘friends of’ groups, if you have highlighted areas or places where there are gaps in these corridors please get in touch so that we can help and support you in linking these up with parks and allowing polluatiors to again flourish in our beautiful coastal town.

Photo: Craig pictured with Anthony Read, Head Ranger at the Councils (Credit - Friends of Marine Gardens)

2020-11-04 - Marine Gardens

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Page last updated: 03 March 2021