The overall aim is to actively manage the park, in order that the flora and fauna native to the area can thrive.
The Trust is responsible for maintaining and improving the Park. While St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Parks Department cut the ‘amenity’ grass, clear litter etc and provide specialist checks (playground, trees etc) and advice, much of the general maintenance is carried out by volunteer working parties. These volunteers meet ‘formally’ three times a month, with smaller groups and individuals working at times that suit them. We also have the services of a contractor with many years’ experience of working in the countryside, who works in the Park for six days each month. He carries out a wide range of tasks (some of which the volunteers are not qualified to do) and provides invaluable advice on what needs to be done, how to do it, and, equally importantly, what should not be done.
Planning the maintenance
The Park Manager, a trustee, the contractor, and a few of the regular volunteers meet quarterly to plan the work for the coming three months. The resulting plan then forms the basis of what will be done in the future. Inevitably other maintenance issues arise which are not identified or foreseen at these meetings (e.g. damaged fences, falling branches and trees etc) which have to be dealt with immediately.
The Park is divided into thirteen ‘compartments’ and the following is a summary, and the main objectives, of each:
1. Railway Walk from car park to the Ashen Road
Dense woodland to be selectively thinned to allow the development of more mature specimen trees and the re-establishment of a bio-diverse under-story. (Accessible to the public)
2. Car park and New Cut area adjacent to car park
A small grass area to be kept cut and safe for general leisure purposes. (Accessible to the public)
3. Castle and Lady Walk
The west bank to be a managed woodland. The north side will be regularly coppiced to open up views of the town whilst, where possible, preserving the privacy of the gardens that adjoin the motte. The east and south sides will be kept clear of trees with the scrub being cut back to ground level early, mid and late season to comply with Historic England requirements. (The path to the top of the motte and the top of the motte are the only parts accessible to the public.)
The area south of the Lady Walk to be managed woodland. (Accessible to the public)
When funds allow, the moat itself will be kept clear of excess reed/rush growth and sediment. Trees and vegetation at the sides will be managed in order to provide good coppiced habitat and to give a clear view of the motte and the Keep from the roadway leading from Station Road to the station buildings. (Not accessible to the public)
4. Outer Bailey
a. The playground and the cut grass area are for general recreation. (Accessible to the public but no dogs, even on leads, are allowed in the fenced-off playground area.)
b. The north bank of the outer bailey (the backdrop to the play area) will be cut three times a year to encourage a good mix of wild herbage and emphasise the historic importance of the boundary of the Outer Bailey. (Not accessible to the public)
c. The east bank of the outer bailey is a dense thicket primarily for wildlife, with the scrub on the verge being cut back periodically to prevent it encroaching onto the cut grass. (Mostly inaccessible to the public)
5. Chilton Stream area
a. The northern end will be managed woodland containing the historic rookery. (Accessible to the public)
b. The section fenced off with a low wooden barrier is a grass area for general leisure purposes. Dogs can only be taken into this area if they are kept on a short lead. (Accessible to the public)
6. Gun Hill Reserve
A preserved wet woodland and a banked area to be kept as a haven for wildlife. (Not accessible to the public)
7. Station and surrounding grass areas
One of the main recreation areas with a considerable area of cut grass. The compartment contains ecologically important features, namely bats (in the roof of the station building), rare ferns, mosses and liverworts (growing on the facing walls of the platforms), and a butterfly garden. (Accessible to the public)
8. Woodland between the station buildings and the New Cut
This wooded area is open to the public but some areas need to be fenced off to allow the re-growth of the under-story (which can be badly damaged by deer and muntjac) and to protect the remains of ancient walls. Access to the wet areas to be restricted to encourage emergent plant growth.
9. Area bounded by the New Cut, pond 3 and the Chilton Stream from the New Cut to the Railway Walk
Apart from the footpaths and areas that are cut back to allow access to the water this compartment is not accessible by the public.
10. Railway Walk towards Cavendish
This is one of the most ecologically important areas of the park (part woodland, part scrub, part wildflower and part grass). It is divided into sections so that effective management (involving rotational coppicing and seasonal mowing) over the years will result in maintaining and preserving the wide range of unique habitat that has developed over more than 100 years.
11/12. Areas at the end of the Railway Walk
To be managed as a picnic and leisure area. Cut and raked off annually to encourage the growth of wildflowers. (Accessible to the public)
13. Area south of the New Cut
a. The grass area to be managed for picnics and leisure. (Accessible to the public)
b. The hazel plantation will be coppiced on a regular basis.