Merrions Wood Avenue Restoration

Merrions WoodMerrions Wood - Picture by John Chatterley ©

Information about the restoration of the Merrions Wood Avenue through the Birmingham and Black County Nature Improvement Area.

In January 2013, work will began to restore an area of land in Merrions Wood Local Nature Reserve. The project, partially funded by the Birmingham and Black County Nature Improvement Area, attempted to buoy failing Horse Chestnut trees in Merrions Wood Avenue, and benefit the wildlife (particularly bees and bats) which inhabit the site by diversifying the grassland along the avenue.

The Horse Chestnut trees were planted on the reserve in 1810. However, since then many of the trees have been removed due disease or failure. The avenue is an important linear feature that links and acts as a foraging site for bats. As such, Walsall Council’s tree gang and Countryside Services estate team conducted surgery to remove and repair diseased tress. Sweet Chestnut trees were then replanted as per the recommendations of a 2009 SULE (safe use life expectancy) survey.

As the avenue grassland was dominated by patches of bramble, Spiraea, thistle and nettle, the area was sprayed to reduce the dominance of such grasses and create a species-rich lowland meadow, improving the grassland especially for bees and pollinating insects.

With the help of Walsall Conservation Volunteers and Friends of Merrions Wood, the hedgerow along the avenue was also improved. Not only was the hedgerow extended, a mixture of Crataegus, Corylus and Prunus plants was installed along the hedge providing a nectar source for bees / pollinators from early spring to mid-summer.

The restoration of Merrions Wood Avenue complemented the NIA’s objectives as it helped to diversify an area of species poor grassland and restore hedgerows and boundary trees. The project also increased environmental volunteering via the involvement of The Friends of Merrions Wood and Walsall Countryside Conservation Volunteers.