Jon Gibbs – Conservation Ranger on Magog Down
Jon spoke to our AGM attendees about his work as Conservation Ranger, a role which he has been carrying out since April 2015. Prior to that he had been involved with Magog Down both as a Governor and as part of the CPPF Ranger Team from Wandlebury, who were contracted as a presence on Magog Down.
The current role now gives him an opportunity to interact with users of Magog Down, not solely in a ‘policing’ capacity. His contract covers 20 hours per week on Magog during which, on each of the three days spent there, he generally carries out a patrol which will include litter picking, Health and Safety checks, and an assessment of general work required e.g. strimming paths, clearing fallen material, mending fences and dealing with any issues arising from the public.
The site was set up as a multi-use one – i.e. for conservation and recreation – and both these requirements have to be carefully balanced. Paths are important to the public and so specific areas are addressed e.g. nettles. With regard to conservation, both ecological and archaeological concerns are addressed: e.g. the Bowl Barrow is frequently strimmed to create a fine sward so that eventually access can be allowed. The seasons are turning now and over the winter woodland management will be addressed; as well as the ongoing programme of woodland thinning, hedge laying and coppicing are carried out to produce a healthy woodland for trees, mammals, birds and insects.
Tasks are undertaken monthly with the small band of volunteers – more are always welcome! [These sessions take place on the second Wednesday of each month; for more information see our Volunteering pages.] Recently a sixth form student, who wishes some conservation experience, has started to join Jon for one afternoon a week so as to gain some practical experience relevant to his studies.
With his weekly presence on Magog Down and his interaction with the public, Jon can accept credit for the fact that this year, for the very first time, hay from the North Down has been cut with the intention of using it for fodder.