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At Munsley we have created another 0.5 ha of wetland in the public area by scraping off bracken litter and clearing away willow scrub, coppicing oak regrowth nearby to let in the light and excavating a new dragonfly pond at the south end. We have also felled and stump-treated another 0.5 ha of birch scrub in one of the private sections, this has been a major job as it’s a very delicate site and access is tricky, but it looks excellent now. The key species here is bog myrtle and we have again taken cuttings from the clumps exposed by the felling which we are now growing on at the IOW College ready to be transplanted back into the glades in the autumn. We are also looking for signs of sundew and cotton grass here – both used to be present but had disappeared. With the help of funding from the Environment Agency we have undertaken a new bryophyte survey at Munsley and these results will provide us with essential guidance on next year’s management.
Munsley is a small wetland site and a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) with very high historic nature conservation value much declined in recent years through lack of management.
The site is split into 3 ownerships only one of which is publicly accessible: a plot owned by Godshill Parish Council. This part has been managed by G2N to provide new public access via a large boardwalk with seating and interpretation.
The bog is managed in sections, the area owned by the Parish Council is visited annually and we work to maintain the open species-rich wetland which produces sheets of orchids in the summer. This year we commissioned the Green Gym to clear bramble, bracken and Willow, in order to make room for smaller wetland plants, such as Heath Spotted Orchid and Marsh Pennywort. They also set to work repairing dams in order to maintain water tables, again to help these type of plants flourish. The cut Willow was recycled, as it was used to create a woven willow fence to replace a broken section of the existing cleft-oak fencing.
We have also worked with the other owners on habitat management to begin to restoring their parts of the site. The G2N work is supported by the Lottery and the Environment Agency and has made a good start on what will need to be a long-term programme of felling, clearance and water level management to bring the site up to the standard of Bohemia (click here for more about Bohemia).
Local cubs and scouts who have a base next door use the site and it is crossed by a public footpath leading into Godshill. G2N has worked closely with the Isle of Wight College on a project to collect and propagate from cuttings of bog myrtle Myrica gale taken from Munsley. This shrub has very few Island populations left and those at Munsley were beginning to fail. The new plants grown on by the college horticulture team were replanted into a large glade cleared specifically for them in the centre of the bog; these have taken well and are firmly established doubling the original size of the population.