The early days...
The Steeple Woodland Project started life back in 1999. It's interesting to look back over the timeline of the project to really see how far the Reserve has developed.
The following is a series of archive photographs that show key stages over the first 10 years.
The most dangerous areas - mainly open mine shafts - had already been cleared and made safe by Cornwall Council. You can see the bare area with circular Cornish hedges in the centre of the picture above. The remainder of the site was largely covered by rhododendron.
It wasn't all about clearing the site of invasive plants, new native trees were planted right from the start.
Manually clearing rhododendron, while very hard work, does not disturb the underlying soil. This gives new saplings a much better start in life as they have no competition for light.
Mechanical clearance removed the top layer of soil exposing seeds that then germinated, The resulting habitat has far more scrubby undergrowth than the hand-cleared areas.
Piles of rhododendron were burned - rhododendron burns very easily. Note: it is now Group policy not to burn waste from the Reserve, rather piles of vegitation are left to decompose naturally and provide shelter to wildlife in the meantime.
A contraversial downside to mechanical clearance was the damage it might have caused to any archeological evidence, for example of the mining known to have been in the area.
By this point all of the rhododendron has been removed from the land east of Steeple Lane. The boundary of the cleared area is marked by the continued Rhododendron growth on neighbouring land. The old Woods is to the west.