Hemel Hempstead volunteer group wins Countryside Conservation Award
The project has become a real community effort
A volunteer group in Hemel Hempstead has been recognised by the countryside charity the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) Hertfordshire Awards 2020.
Friends of Halsey Field community project in Gadebridge won the award for those who were caring for their community and/or the environment.
The Friends of the Field do both of these, as by carefully managing the Halsey Field we are looking after the environment, and this in turn is benefiting the local community, by providing them with a special place to enjoy.
The wildlife site is conserved by a group of local volunteers and is being maintained as an oasis of biodiversity in the borough to enhance the environment in the county.
The site was identified in the summer of 2013 by Gadebridge residents who became aware of the variety of interesting wild plants and animals.
The Friends group was formed in 2016, once the field had been declared worthy of Local Wildlife Site status by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and the Dacorum Environmental Forum had obtained permission from Hertfordshire County Council to manage it.
Now, a growing army of volunteers, led by the Friends of Halsey Field committee, helps to keep the scrub under control.
Over the years, the project has become a real community effort, with local groups such as the Osborne Property Group and Chiltern conservation volunteer groups getting involved with the management tasks.
Local residents are always invited to join the work parties, and free refreshments and tools are supplied.
The project has attracted some local experts with different specialities such as entomology, who are able to monitor the flora and fauna on the site in detail to check on the success of the management programme.
One Friend conducts a weekly butterfly survey during the spring and summer and enters the results on the Butterfly Conservation website, others identify the moths during moth survey evenings and carry out regular wildflower surveys.
Chair of the Friends of Halsey Field committee, Chris Ridley, said: “Monitoring has shown that the hard work and dedication of the Friends in carrying out the management programme has been extremely effective.
"The number of wildflowers and butterflies have increased, much to the delight of local residents who constantly thank us for our efforts and say how much they enjoy this special place.”
This year, because of COVID-19 there was no award ceremony to enjoy but instead the CPRE have made a short film of an interview with the chairman of the Friends of the Field which will be published on the Halsey Field Local Wildlife Site, Hemel Hempstead Facebook community page.