Evening Hill tree work

3rd February 2022

Background

Evening Hill is an open space in Canford Cliffs ward that slopes down from Sandbanks Road to the harbour and affords fine views across the water to the Purbecks beyond.

The space comprises an area of grass with benches, and a network of informal paths and steps around fenced-off wildlife areas; there is also a promenade beside the waters edge.

There is considerable nature conservation interest in the site; it is designated as part of the Luscombe Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – a national nature conservation designation denoting a protected area – due to its remnant heathland vegetation, sand lizards and Bermuda grass. 

As part of the Evening Hill cycle lane project (outlined in the image below) we are undertaking work to restore the SSSI boosting access to nature, supporting our health and wellbeing.

Evening Hill cycle lane project

The works

Evening Hill is enjoyed as a natural open space and we are not intending to carry out any work that is likely to compromise that, in fact the works will only enhance these features.

The Holm Oak trees growing here are unsuitable for this location due to the SSSI designation and therefore we are going to be removing these trees and replacing with a grass seed mix suitable for the acidic soil here.

The removal of these trees follows advice from Natural England (government advisory body for the natural environment) and the Council’s nature conservation experts. Holm Oak is an invasive species (‘Quercus ilex’ as listed here) and therefore the Council are required to remove from protected sites. All of Evening hill is included within the Luscombe valley SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), notified for its heathland and acidic grassland habitats, these sites are important in a European and international context for their plant and animal communities.

If not managed the Holm Oak will quickly spread and due to its thick, evergreen canopies will prevent/destroy any heathland and acidic grasslands from growing below them. This would be disastrous in the long term as:

  • Evening hill will become dominated with Holm Oak with little to no understory which will reduce wildlife diversity, so we would have a site that only supports a handful of species.
  • The Council would not be fulfilling legal obligations to protect and enhance the SSSI, possibly leading to large fines from Natural England.
  • This special site could lose its designation and we would lose another part of the complex of heathland sites which together comprise the Dorset Heathlands, which has already lost 86% of its area since the mid-18th century.

The few Scots Pine are a significant feature here, giving character and are a more appropriate species to retain, as are more fitting with the historical landscapes of the area, have less impact on the site and are at least native to Britain. Being native to the UK they do add far more value than Holm Oak with 91 species of associated insect compared to just 2 on Holm oak, which in turn provides food for other species up the food chain.

While we’re working here, we will also be undertaking work to repair the fencing and benches.

Evening Hill tree works 2022

Approximate timescales

  • Tree removal work – January / February 2022
  • Ground prep and grass seeding – spring 2022
  • Repairs to the fence – spring / summer 2022
  • Bench refurbishment – TBC

We apologise for any inconvenience caused while the work is ongoing and thank you for your patience.

Project details

Budget £30,800
Funding Emergency Active Travel Fund Programme
Project Leader Ruth Wharton
01202 261700
environment@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

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