About this good practice
The Coosebean Valley Greenspace is 18 hectares of river frontage, broadleaf woodland and wild grassland on the edge of Truro. A cycle path had already been constructed through the space, however whilst the area was rich in nature, it was neglected with some anti-social behaviour and little access. The land was devolved to Truro City Council by Cornwall Council and a Countryside Ranger post created in 2019 to look after the land and encourage use of green spaces across the city.
During the first Covid-19 lockdown, residents could only take one local walk per day so the area became very popular. Early work encouraged people to access the site and use the many formal and informal paths. A ‘fairy doors’ trail was created by a resident to encourage families to use the site. Many new users and established residents ‘discovered’ the site for the first time.
The number of people using the site increased rapidly and the scale of usage impacted the health of the site and nature. A ‘Friends of Coosebean’ group was set up to work with volunteers to create new paths away from important habitat, encourage wider controlled exploration of the site, reduce damage from dog walking and improve habitat. This has included balancing accessibility to some areas, tree planting and creation of dry hedges and natural structures to guide users.
Additional funding has also been released for activities in recognition of the impacts on the site and its growing importance in the lives of residents.
Revenue funding was required for the employment of the warden and very small capital funds for maintenance equipment and improvement works. Most materials used in construction and maintenance are found on site and reused (e.g. branches, wood chippings etc)
Evidence of success
Improved access to wild spaces in the city in the pandemic has increased the value that residents place on them. The site remains busy and activities have increased to nurture wildlife, educate and promote active involvement of the site and volunteering. A greater sense of community involvement and ownership has reduced anti-social behaviour and increased the sense of ownership and pride that residents and visitors feel for this precious and diverse greenspace close to the centre of the city.
Potential for learning or transfer
The practice took simple steps to involve local residents in the management of the area, creating a programme of simple restoration and maintenance tasks, guided walks by volunteers and creating a sense of local pride and increased use of the area to discourage vandalism. A local resident has created a series of fairy homes and trails to encourage children and parents to visit the site, although these could be any feature designed to explain the site or create opportunities for active play. Measures involved were low cost, using simple conservation tasks that increased local knowledge of traditional maintenance techniques and using materials from the site. Whilst a warden is employed, decisions on running the site are made by a ‘Friends of Group’ creating local control. The approach could replicated and applied in any local wild areas across all European regions.