Tree planting, shrub maintenance, path construction, and fence construction – some of the tasks associated with woodland management. Sadly, in Poleglass, West Belfast, these tasks have given way to the removal of fly tipping and the recovery of burnt out cars, vans, and even buses!
The Laurel Glen project is a loose conglomeration of open greenspace in the Lisburn Council area, owned by the Department for Social Development (DSD), and extending out beyond the Greater Belfast Urban fringe. The Conservation Volunteers became involved with the project over ten years ago and now employ five Community Wardens in the area.
During these ten years, the staff have gained great insight into dealing with the sites and the people who use them. They also place great emphasis on developing good relationships with the local community. Despite this, after almost every weekend, wrecked cars can be found littering the site and the team have to use a dumper truck and winch, bought by DSD, to remove vehicles dumped in the most difficult terrain, such as river valleys.
Martin Neeson, Senior Community Warden recognises the job is not easy, but remains determined. “It’s frustrating to see problems that never come to an end,” says Martin, “but without our commitment, this place would be a complete mess. It is not the sexiest job in the world, but it is an every day challenge”.