Earth Day 2017

Look after the Trees, please

Manor Woods Valley has only just gone and made an even bigger contribution towards the fight against climate chaos and the recovery of nature! It will not have gone unnoticed that there has recently been a whole swathe of tree planting in our local nature reserve. Over seven hundred trees were planted near the Vale Lane entrance and one hundred were planted near the bottom of the path down from Valley Road entrance, all part of Bristol’s One Tree Per Child project. All the new trees are native broad-leaf, chosen to reflect the species already thriving in the woods and some new varieties to increase diversity. They include:

Field Maple, Silver Birch, Downy Birch, Dogwood, Hazel, Hawthorn, Spindle, Crab Apple, Wild Cherry, English Oak, Rowan, Small Leaved Lime and Guelder Rose.

The Manor Woods Valley Group also planted thirteen more fruit trees in Manor Woods Orchard and over a dozen more donated trees and shrubs throughout the woodland near the allotments.

Bristol City Council’s One Tree Per Child project began in 2015 with the aim of planting one tree for every primary school aged child in the city. The target of 36,000 trees was exceeded by 2016 and the project has continued to plant 6,000 trees per year, one for every pupil starting school each year. Bristol’s One City Plan includes a target to double the tree canopy in the city by 2046 and it’s great that Manor Woods Valley’s new trees are helping.

And why is this so important for the local SOUTH Bristol communities? The Woodland Trust makes a powerful case for the value of trees: “Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. The entire woodland ecosystem plays a huge role in locking up carbon, including the living wood, roots, leaves, deadwood, surrounding soils and its associated vegetation. And trees do more than just capture carbon. They also fight the cruel effects of a changing climate. They can help prevent flooding, reduce city temperature, reduce pollution and keep soil nutrient-rich. The bottom line is, we need more trees and we need to protect the ones we already have.”

Trees are also a haven for wildlife; they provide fruit and nuts for birds and mammals, insects that are food for birds and bats feed on their leaves, birds nest in them and they provide safe travel corridors between areas. The newly planted areas will help make wildlife friendly links between Manor Woods Valley, the Northern Slopes and Crox Bottom. So, enjoy Manor Woods Valley even more and look after the trees, please.

May be an image of outdoors

Manor Valley Woods Group is thinking about the climate and ecological emergencies

A draft paper presented to the Bristol Parks Forum for consideration at their meeting on Saturday 27th June 2020.


Manor Woods Valley Group is asking itself some fundamental questions about how best to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies. Reversing the climate breakdown and loss of species requires urgent, radical, ambitious, largescale and collaborative solutions. Doing a little more of what we already do will just not cut it. This paper reflects our early discussions within the Group and will be further developed in debate with Manor Woods Valley supporters and the wider community over the coming months.

Like most ‘friends groups’, locally and nationally, we are privileged: mostly middle class, white, time-rich, garden owners who are relatively economically independent. We are not representative of the wider local and city populations and we cannot assume to speak for everyone. There are local and citywide communities that do not always have the same access to private and public green spaces and feel excluded from decisions about them. Furthermore, the majority of parks and green spaces in the city are not supported by active ‘friends groups’ and many groups struggle to sustain themselves over time with new members. We are beginning to question whether the ‘parks friends group’ is a fit-for-purpose model for local communities to contribute adequately to a citywide response to the climate and ecological emergencies and related health and equality crises.

How can the ‘friends group’ model be improved on or is there a better alternative?

Covid-19 has wrought a terrible toll on human life but is also resulting in some benefits such as reduced emissions from fossil fuels, cleaner air, increased interest in nature, active travelling, greenspaces, gardening and food-growing, community volunteering, acts of kindness, etc.

How do we retain as many of these benefits to people and wildlife as possible and ‘build back better’, sustainably, collaboratively and fairly?

Bristol’s One City Plan aims to achieve carbon neutrality in less than a decade and to ‘double wildlife’ and the tree canopy in less than three decades. Green spaces have a vital role in helping to realise these aims but the precise contribution of each green space is unclear in the absence of an overall plan. Some spaces could contribute more to the protection and improvement of wildlife habitats (through ‘rewilding’), while others may lend themselves better to ground heat/solar/wind energy production, the growing of biomass fuels or the production of food. Some may be able to support more than one of these uses.

With the health, wellbeing and prosperity of future generations in mind, how can we best support and challenge city plans for the long-term use of our green spaces?

At a time of great uncertainty about the future, education will play an even more vital role in supporting future generations in their efforts to avert climate chaos and environmental breakdown and to achieve climate justice. Green spaces are a rich resource for outdoor and lifelong learning. What contribution can we make to awareness-raising and the empowerment of future decision-makers and what support do local communities need to make an impact?

Time spent in green spaces has a beneficial impact on physical and mental health. This is now even more important given the anticipated long term health issues arising from the current coronavirus pandemic.

How do we promote and support health, welfare and wellbeing services in non-medical social prescribing?

We appreciate that parks and nature reserves make up only part of the green space in Bristol. Gardens, farms, small holdings, allotments, common land, water courses, verges, public service estates (such as hospitals, schools, community centres and places of worship), and private corporate estates all have potential to contribute to nature recovery and climate calming.

How do we support collaborative work between all these green space interest groups to help achieve the climate and ecological goals of the One City Plan?

A Special Place

Sam Lester is a member of The Forest of Avon Trust’s wellbeing course in Manor Woods Valley. She wrote this poem in March 2020, just as the country went into lockdown and the course was cut short.

A Special Place

Gently close your eyes and let your mind start to wonder…

Through the maze of all those competing thoughts; be patient, breath,

And it will come

That special place.

And then you can enter the woodland

Hazy at first but there it is, just as you remember it

The path down to that magical place

The buzz of expectant insects, the smell of the ripe earth

Each branch pointing the way, swaying, welcoming

Whilst new buds smile their sticky grins as you pass

And as you veer off the main path, it’s now that familiar track,

Small, less travelled, easily missed.

You can sense it now, just ahead…

The wood smoke signalling, weaving its way through the infant leaves

Colours invading as you reach the clearing, a million vibrant greens saluting the

new shoots rising

Hands wrapped round mugs of tea, the cracking fire lighting lost spirits

The hum of our forest community. Accepting. Restoring.

Gnarly tree fallen in Manor Woods Valley

Hold these treasured moments, still. Let the birdsong remind us

Mother Nature is alive and well

The world is still turning, the woodland awake

The community embers glow strong.

The more than human world cannot and will not be locked down.

Spring is here.


by Sam Lester, 2020

Manor Woods Orchard Wassail

On 18th January 2020 we held a very successful and well attended wassail in Manor Woods Orchard. The occasion was MC’d by the Wassail Master, with assistance from the Orchard King and Queen, and musical accompaniment was provided by the St Paul’s Wassailers. The sun shone throughout. The fruit trees were anointed with apple juice, apple cakes were eaten and jolly good time was had by all.

Manor Woods Valley Butterfly Survey 2019

This report prepared has been prepared by Peter Loy-Hancocks from the Manor Woods Valley Group

1)  Introduction and Methodology

Environmental science student and Manor Woods Valley Group member, Rachael Harvey, undertook three butterfly surveys in Manor Woods Valley Local Nature Reserve during the summer of 2019. In order to facilitate comparisons between surveys within the year, and in future years, the surveyor established and followed seven transects within the site (see figure 1).

Due to increasingly dense ruderal vegetation, it was not possible to survey transect 4 effectively.

Map of 2019 Butterfly Survey in Manor Woods Valley
Figure 1: Butterfly survey transects within Manor Woods Valley


The numbers of each butterfly species within transects were noted on to a field recording forms. These records form the basis of this report. All records were submitted to Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC).

Additional records were obtained through casual observations made by the surveyor and others at different times throughout the year.

2)  Results

The first survey was conducted in the late morning of 27 June, on a sunny but breezy day. A total of 99 butterflies of eight species were recorded. The counts are summarised in table 1.

Species Transect Total
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7  
Common Blue     1 1       2
Large White     1   3     4
Marbled White     6   3     9
Meadow Brown 3 1 57 4 3 1 1 70
Red Admiral 1       1     2
Ringlet 2   2 1 3     8
Large Skipper         1   1 2
Small Tortoiseshell       2       2
  6 1 67 8 14 1 2 99

The second survey was conducted in mid-morning on 6 July, when there was 20% cloud cover. On this occasion 189 butterflies of nine species were recorded. These counts are summarised in table 2.

Species Transect Total
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7  
Common Blue     5         5
Large White   1       3   4
Marbled White     18 3 6     27
Meadow Brown 9 4 61 1 5 7 2 89
Painted Lady         1     1
Ringlet 5 4 16 1 5 4 5 40
Large Skipper 2 1 2   4   2 11
Small/Essex Skipper     2 1 8     11
Speckled Wood             1 1
  16 10 104 6 29 14 10 189

The third survey was conducted early on the 25 July, which was a hot day with 40% cloud cover. 155 butterflies of fifteen species were recorded. These counts are summarised in table 3.

Species Transect Total
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7  
Brown Argus     5         5
Comma   1     1     2
Common Blue 1   13 3 1     18
Gatekeeper 3 1 1 6 5 3 6 25
Green-veined White 3           1 4
Large White 4 1 1     4 1 11
Marbled White     2 2       4
Meadow Brown 1   22 1 1 3 2 30
Peacock 1       1 2 1 5
Red Admiral 1         1   2
Ringlet 1   2   2 1   6
Large Skipper 1   6   1     8
Small/Essex Skipper 1   13 2       16
Small White 3 2   1   5 4 15
Speckled Wood   3       1   4
  20 8 65 15 12 20 15 155

The total number of butterflies recorded in each transect are summarised in table 4.

  Transect Total
No. Butterflies 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  
27-Jun 6 1 67 8 14 1 2 99
06-Jul 16 10 104 6 29 14 10 189
25-Jul 20 8 65 15 12 20 15 155
Total 42 19 236 29 55 35 27 443

Casual records included observations of two Brimstones made on 15 February.

Including the two Brimstones, a total of 445 butterflies of eighteen species were recorded during 2019. These were Brimstone, Brown Argus, Comma, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Large White, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Small/Essex Skipper and Speckled Wood.

3)  Discussion

It is difficult to draw many conclusions from monitoring butterflies within Manor Woods Valley for a single year; however, what does appear to be clear is the importance of the Wildflower Meadow (transect 3), especially to Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Ringlets.

Download this report as a PDF file.