I tend not to do many blog posts about work because generally its all on a big loop of bread and butter standard nature friendly green space management tasks involving tree canopy management, hedge trimming, wildlife friendly planting, estate tree management plans, quoting and admin. We have two or three teams ( 6-8 guys) who go out Monday to Friday, up to five people in the office and outsource marketing, IT, accounting etc to other independent small businesses. So its a full on small business and we have over 1500 customers a year including block management companies, developers , community groups, councils and conservation organisations.
Fundamentally our objective, is to be a private self sustaining profitable mini-conservation organisation that brings biodiversity maintenance/improvement into everyday green space management. I'm not entirely sure how much land we manage. GIGL (Greenspace information for Greater London) say the average London garden is 200m2 but most of our work is in the upper middle class suburbs where the gardens are two to three times the average size. So for sake of argument if our average garden is 500m2 than that is a 750,000 m2 area (185 acres, 74 hectares). The London Wetland Centre is 29.9 hectares in size) so effectively our company manages more land in London than the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. On top of the gardens we also manage much larger areas for block management companies- probably half again, so we must be managing well over a million meter squares of land (247 acres, 100 hectares). Additionally we sit on the Beddington Farmlands Conservation Science group committee and the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner Neighbourhood Development Group- wearing different hats- which manages an additional 1000 acres- so in total our reach has got to be 500 hectares.
It's not difficult to see how private small green space management companies can easily provide the solution for biodiversity loss in urban areas. We don't need funding or subsidies, we don't need crowd funding, petitioning, demonstration, campaigns, subscribers or anything - we wipe our own faces, connect directly to demand and we thrive in a highly competitive market. Our biggest enemy is the government and the lack of regulation that allows our unsustainable and nature destroying competitors to exist- unsustainable nature destroying green space management companies should be illegal and during a period of austerity, tighter household budgets mean it is more difficult to manage green spaces responsibly- an advantage that cowboys and environmental exploiting companies will use. (Without going into one, of course our even bigger enemy is Viridor- who hold they keys to the success of the coreland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park, these cowboys control and are destroying the most important part of our puzzle).
In addition to our bread and butter work we also work on biodiversity recording and public engagement projects, mainly Beddington Farmlands/Hackbridge Project and Azores Nature but also on the Balkan Ecology Project and starting a new project in Ghana. I tend to blog on these matters as this is the area we are making lots of new discoveries in but really our most important work is the day to day grind stuff.
So for a change here's a few recent work pics:
Plants from Wimbeldon Tennis were donated to local community groups so we got 200 plants for the Hackbridge Project
One day these plants were on international TV decorating Wimbledon Centre Court and the next they are on the other side of the tracks decorating the entrance to Beddington Farmlands- a really riches to rags story!
A Copper Beech causing too many shading problems
Thinning out the canopy maintains the natural shape of the tree while mitigating the excessive shading problems
Another thin and lift on a large maturing tree- reducing the canopy of a tree is a last resort measure and we will only take trees down where they are condemned, dangerous, seriously damaging property, in areas of excess tree density or are invasive (including Leylandii)
Some recent tree planting
and low maintenance border maintenance planted up with wildlife friendly shrubs
Before (above) and after (below)- just tidying up edges and trimming things up (a makeover) can adequately maintain a mature biodiverse standard suburban garden for an annual cost of around £650.
The schools are shut so we're doing the school trees- here's a standard reduction on a Lime. A canopy reduction is a last resort measure for managing large maturing trees. In this case the tree was causing damage to the wall and uplifting the childrens play area. Despite the hard prune (and Limes can take it) a senstive reduction can to a degree maintain the natural shape of the tree.
and meanwhile in Oxford at the Old Vic- the wildflower meadow isn't going to plan! A really tough area that is high in nutrients and full of nettles. Some of it has taken but will need some further intervention to get this one established.
Not looking too bad from the right angle!
Our biggest challenge this summer has been the drought- lots of gardens and green spaces are completely straw coloured (above Beddington Farmlands, below the Beddington Farmlands obs)