| Have your say on the draft Avon Gorge management proposals
Local people are being invited to comment on proposals for a new management plan for the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge.
The draft proposals, prepared by the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, (a consortium of organisations who manage the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge) cover key themes that make the gorge special. The proposals set out how important wildlife and geology in the gorge could be protected and looked after. Other proposals look at ways to improve access, create educational opportunities and conserve the gorge’s natural landscape.
The proposals will be available for comment at the Bristol City Council website www.bristol.gov.uk/gorgeproposals from Friday, 17 April to Friday, 29 May 2009.
Members of the public can see a special display of the draft proposals from Friday, 17 April to Tuesday, 21 April, 9.30am – 4.00pm each day, in a temporary Portacabin, on The Downs by the Water tower. Staff will be on hand to help answer any questions and queries from members of the public.
“The Avon Gorge is nationally and internationally recognised as a special place for wildlife,” says Mandy Leivers of the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. “The gorge is home to 27 nationally rare and scarce plants, including the ‘Bristol Onion’, which is found nowhere else in the UK. A whole host of rare animals also live here including: peregrine falcons; greater and lesser horseshoe bats and a number of rare insects. It’s our responsibility to make sure their environment is protected and managed to ensure their survival.”
Chris Westcott, of Natural England, comments: “Many of the rare plants are only found in the few open grassy areas on the gorge. They are under constant threat of encroachment by trees and scrub. Over the last five years the project has been carefully removing trees and scrub in a special area known as The Gully. Grassland and rare plants are beginning to make a comeback but we need to keep the scrubby re-growth under control. One of the best and ways to achieve this is to introduce a small herd of five or six goats within a specially fenced area. If this option is approved the goats would be looked after by the Downs Ranger’s team.”
Councillor Gary Hopkins, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: “The Avon Gorge is one of Bristol’s most beautiful natural places. It is vital we all work together to protect and conserve its unique environment and the wildlife habitats it supports. By putting in place an effective and robust management plan we will be able to ensure the gorge is cared for in a responsible way for many years to come."
Francis Greenacre, member of the Downs Committee, added: “The proposals have been drawn up with advice and guidance from national experts and conservation organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and the University of Bristol. They set out how the gorge’s special wildlife can be conserved, how the landscape can be enhanced, as well making sure the gorge stays as an enjoyable and accessible place for visitors. We hope people will take a close look at our proposals and send in their comments.”