Thornes Common, Wakefield

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Once a tip, then a quarry, now back to its roots …

Twenty years ago, Roger Parkinson embarked upon a labour of love with his son to help the plants and wildlife around Thornes Common.

A volunteer Tree Warden with The Tree Council, Roger plants seeds from local, native trees by direct seeding which has proved hugely successful.

“When planting trees at home I use recycled containers from milk and fruit juice cartons. This not only finds a second use for them while the tree grows in its first year but helps the cartons degrade as they are very hard to break down in their complete state.”

“The cartons are the ideal depth for the first year’s root growth and I use the compost from my domestic composter which they thrive on.”

Blue tits, robins, thrushes and great tits have been attracted to nest in Roger’s home-made bird boxes. Over the past year, he has made over 100 boxes from recycled timber and with the help of like-minded friends three owl boxes have followed.

“I find this type of work so rewarding and the area I have focused on has so much diversity it never fails to amaze me. Areas like this need our help to prevent further loss of habitat.”

“Anyone who has a favourite place to walk can do something to make that place even better, so get out there and do it!”

Roger has clearly been an inspiration to his son who is now working at an environmental consultancy after studying an Environmental Science degree.

Thornes Common is a small plot of several acres locked between the M1, the River Calder and some housing estates.

Now part of the Environment Agency River Calder flood alleviation scheme, a huge variety of plants have thrived after recent flooding.

“It is popular with the local community as a pleasant place to walk and part of The National Cycle Network passes through it. I am gradually doing a survey of the flora and fauna and I have taken hundreds of photographs. I am hoping that the local authority will give this unique place status as a nature reserve so it can be protected and managed for the future.”