of land that the development proposals relate to can be
split into two separate and totally different habitat areas
.Both are very attractive in their own way, and home to a surprisingly large range of wildlife.
The festival site area is still fenced off, though if you are determined you can find a way inside, but the heath-land area has easy access, in fact several rights of way have probably accrued across it by now.
Parts of the heath-land have what can perhaps best be described as a "wilderness" feel about them, you can" switch off", listen to the skylarks above you, and believe you are miles from any city, and if any Liverpool people reading this site have never been there, I strongly recommend a visit, I am sure you will regard it as the City's best natural park .
A local ornithologist has given us the following information about both the resident and visiting birds that can be seen there.
PRESENT ALL YEAR
skylark ; lapwing ; meadow pipit ; common partridge ; heron ; kestrel ; sparrow hawk ; redpolls ; mallard ; jay ; reed bunting ;
SUMMER VISITORS whitethroat ; wheatear
WINTER VISITORS snipe ; field fare ; redwing ; snow bunting .
There are also some Bats (pipistrelle ?) ,and foxes.
The heathland flora does not seem to be very varied, probably on account of all the noxious substances underground. It seems many flowers just will not grow there, which may be mother natures way of telling us not to disturb such poisonous ground (is anybody listening) .
Below are some photographs taken of both the areas in summer 2002.
only a relatively small range of wild flowers, but it includes orchids, poppies and broom, and is enough to make the site attractive.
the dereliction inside the remaining part of the garden festival site
The short essay below is from a local ten year old campaigner. He has seen the dereliction inside the remnant of the festival site, and he would like something done about it.
IDEAS for FESTIVAL SITE
A public family park should be made. A visitor centre with a nature and bike trail as well as bird hides and woodland walks, should be included. A play area could be installed to keep children happy and information walls and living walls could keep people interested in our wild life.
The site needs cleaning up considerably and is very dangerous at the moment. The cleanest pond should be selected and extended. The inhabitants of the other ponds should be transferred to this pond. The ponds left over should be filled in and the site of that pond be cleaned. The pond left over should be cleaned with a large filter and manually replacing polluted water with clean water of the same temperature.
Funding could come from voluntary donations, an admission fee, or a charge to join the campaign.
(From a local 10 year old campaigner)
In Summer 2002 some of our supporters went to investigate the remnant of the GF site. Here is their report
Visit to the Secret Garden
Five of us went to the Festival Garden Site to have a look for ourselves at what had become of it. A couple of us were already familiar with the place as we were regular visitors to the site anyway. There are several places where the gaps in the fence are big enough to easily admit an adult, including in the gates opposite Priory Wood where we chose to go in. We went first to the highest point in the site, a small grassy hill where there were lots of small butterflies. From our vantage point we could see across to Wales and had good views along the river. We could also see on the map of the Wiggins plans exactly where the hotels, houses, shops and road would be, and what would remain of the greenery all around us. At the moment it is a lovely leafy area where further along there are open spaces for football and kite flying, but the plans take in the area far beyond the enclosed site and run right down to the river front.
From the hill we took a walk through overgrown gardens passing a small pond where, we were informed by the eleven year old in our midst, that kids from the area catch newts. Although the place is so overgrown it is possible to see which plants and trees must have been planted for the Festival and which have grown wild. We also were able to trace the stream which runs through the site and we stood on the broken bridges which had suffered from years of vandalism and neglect. We passed pagodas with peeling paint, glimpsed through overgrown shrubs on which roses blossomed, all speaking of former glories. In such an environment no wonder we know that wildlife abounds. There are signs of tipping and vandalism but considering the length of time it has been neglected it feels the opposite to waste ground. This is an enclosed secret garden, an oasis still, in a busy city, where nature thrives.
As we walked we met two friends of someone in the group who were enjoying an evening walk and who joined us. The only other people we saw were some young boys who appeared to be swimming in one of the larger ponds taking advantage of the clement weather. Although clearly some local people enjoy the Garden Festival Grounds, most people stick to the public paths to walk their dogs, kept out by the fencing. There are dangers for children and young people though who seem to go there more than other groups. There are manholes in the ground that an attempt has been made to cover with large boulders and there are large expanses of water surrounded by grass and rocks or with welcoming shores inviting one to fish or search for tadpoles.
At the far end behind the dome there is still a go-kart track, rusty and overgrown as everything else was there. We also discovered several times that it is big enough to lose one’s bearings and end up in a tangle of undergrowth. Closer to the road again we found a plaque about the Japanese gifts to the people of Liverpool for their garden, and not far away, completely intact a very splendid Acer tree. Although our walk was investigative it was also a very pleasant walk of the kind that is hard to find anywhere, never mind in a city. Although some of it would remain intact as a garden it was sobering to realise just how many trees, shrubs and plants would be lost if the plans went ahead.