Last Friday’s Forum attracted over forty volunteers from the different groups. Susie presented the Workplan for 2017 at Ashridge, with Lawrence giving details of past and future commitments to conservation, and Lalenya outlining details of her forthcoming events.
Capitol projects gaining traction include the car parking project, the long awaited extension to the Estate Office, the extension to the mobility track and cycle route, and the upgrading of the Basecamp for visitors. Various surveys are being undertaken, and approvals and estimates being sought.
New signage is appearing with the replacement of the old maroon notices with new slate grey ones, which are being rolled out across the N T property portfolio. The fourteen new information boards to be erected at Ashridge beauty spots are awaiting planning approval, and this will result in the removal of some of the iconic silver “omega” signs.
The eagerly awaited mini information leaflets for dog-walkers, bikers, and horse riders are in print, and will be invaluable as hand-outs for the visitors, and the “yellow” map for bikers is on sale.
An exhibition to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage is planned for 2018, referencing the women who have helped in the development of Ashridge over the years. Volunteers are to be asked to participate in this project.
Plans are well advanced for the April Egg Hunt, when some five thousand chocolate Easter eggs are expected to be sold – weather permitting.
Dockey Wood is being prepared for the influx of admirers to see the now famous bluebells, with membership recruitment high on the agenda. This years overall target is three hundred and thirty six and is proceeding well, with a new dedicated van having been purchased to help the recruiters.
A special “tree weekend” fundraising appeal is being launched in September, with a view to raising funds for veteran tree care at Ashridge.
Deer management has been the biggest commitment to conservation since it has such a huge bearing on all aspects of the habitat at Ashridge. The cull resulted in a reduction of the herds to one thousand four hundred and eighty fallow, and ninety muntjac deer. Future supplies of venison are to be sold throughout the trust branded as “Ashridge Venison”.
Restoration of heathland is continuing on Berkhamsted common, with downland improvement at Northchurch Flats and Hudnall.
Plant seeds have been taken to propagate the wild kidney vetch as a plant food for the butterflies, and cuttings have been prepared from the now endangered juniper. A twenty year woodland management plan has been formulated to obtain countryside stewardship funding, with tree safety management along roads and rights of way continuing as work in progress.
On the archaeology front, Ashridge will be supporting a new project by the Chiltern Society investigating the hill-forts along the Chiltern escarpment.
A wild flower walk and picnic for staff and volunteers is planned for Monday 5th June at the Beacon. – bring your own cup and cake.
These regular forums are well attended and are proving to be very informative with only two questions being asked in the open session – further conversations took place over coffee and cake.
These meetings help to foster a togetherness between the disparate groups working at Ashridge – windmillers, flint wallers, shop keepers, conservationists, rangers, surveyors, carpenters and monumenteers. The detailed information provided, enables the volunteers to confidently engage with the public and is a foundation for the “Service Vision” for staff and volunteers alike, being rolled out by the Trust. A document was presented outlining the exceptional service which the N T hope to be identified with when receiving visitors, offering the public something special on their trip out. One of the volunteers, from Dunwich Heath is on-message