Imagine strolling through a woodland, a crisp winter morning, shimmering golden rays of sunshine stabbing through the deserted canopy, illuminating patches of ground. Something catches your eye, a fleeting gleaming flash that demands your attention. You move closer, wondering what treasure you have discovered as you trepidatiously tread a moulding carpet of sombre brown leaves. Each footstep muffled, the sound stolen away by the dampness of December. Your eyes settle upon the sight, a discarded crisp packet, half turned inside-out. You raise your eyes disappointedly and are struck by the vista before you. This winter wonderland is a minefield of litter, metal beer cans, plastic bottles, random junk. A mattress straddles the path like a morbid marshmallow and a rusting fridge lays wounded in a ditch, a white soldier in his trench cowering from the onslaught of man’s detritus and throwaway culture.
Into this pocked landscape our team strode. Two sessions of intrepid and determined young people, Rangers and locals came together to scour this sylvan dumping ground clean, to seek out and removed the invading items. We arrived onsite; marquee and port-loos beside a gleaming row of brand new wheel barrows, litter pickers bin bags. With a cuppa in hand and a song in our hearts we broke into groups, grabbed our new gear and set off along Hospital Plantation’s many paths. The wood itself is the largest that Lincoln City Council owns and had been neglected for many years. Once the site of an RAF airbase nature has reclaimed it and despite the bunkers still being there the site has the potential to be a haven of tranquility. Our forestry team has already been onsite over the last few months to widen the paths and mark up the trees. Our team (including Growing Up Green Forestry Apprentices) will be conducting thinning operations to bring light to the woodland and improve the health and biodiversity of the site. Senior Ranger Holly had challenged the teams to bring in the most litter and was armed with weighing scales and clip board. Over an hour later and we rendezvoused back for the results.
Hand made wooden trophies were awarded to the teams that had been the most successful, the morning session gold award going to Senior Ranger Gav and his two Study Programme learners Connor and Josh, bringing back over 93kg of litter. Mainly found by one of the wood’s entrances to the Birchwood housing estate. The afternoon session’s winners brought in over 149kg! Over 750kg of litter was bagged that day and multiple larger fly-tips were marked for collection. A remarkable effort.
Each session was followed by a short walk back to a local church where we enjoyed a Christmas dinner cooked by Ranger Maz and the learners on the Hospitality course. There’s still a lot to do down at Hospital Plantation but Growing Up Green and Hill Holt Wood are on the case. Together with local volunteers we’ll transform this woodland into somewhere the local community really values.