Getting their hands dirty for nature- volunteers clear scrubland near Dudelange
Photo: Bee Together
Volunteer Cathy Walshe talks about the rewarding experience clearing brush with a conservation charity in the south of Luxembourg
Cathy Walshe describes a day clearing brush near Dudelange with volunteers from conservation charity natur&ëmwelt.
It was one of those stunningly beautiful winter mornings: clear blue sky, under strong sunlight and fields sparkling with snow that I met Claudine Felten early on Saturday morning on 21 January.
In -7 degrees Celsius, the cold facilitating the waking up process, I listened as Claudine, from natur&ëmwelt Fondation Hëllef fir d'Natur, described how we would intervene on land purchased by the foundation on "Roudebierg" near Dudelange.
The brush, particularly dogwood and blackthorn, were to be cleared, allowing light to penetrate to the ground, encouraging the proliferation of wild flowers, including orchids. Roudebierg is part of the Natura 2000 site “Dudelange – Ginzebierg” and an important site for orchids and other typical plants of dry calcareous grassland.
As a flock of sheep grazes the area, we raked the cut shrubs into piles so that they don’t get hurt by stepping on thorns. The sheep have a double function: they help keep the area clear of new shrubs and they spread seeds of plants and flowers in their wool and their hooves as they graze from one area to another.
We were joined by a group of scouts from the local area and Claudine, who operates mainly on the land belonging to natur&ëmwelt in the Dudelange area, organised us with rakes and we soon warmed up.
It was particularly satisfying to immediately see the effects of our labour as we cleared the slope, especially helped by the strong sunlight that was obviously reaching the ground where we had worked.
Despite the freezing cold temperatures there was a good turnout from the scouts and our hosts treated us to hot coffee and chocolate to keep our spirits up. It was with a sense of optimism that I stood on top of the hill and surveyed the work we had accomplished together, imagining the wild flowers that will start appearing in spring.
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Cathy Walshe is a volunteer with Bee Together, an environmental preservation group in Luxembourg.