Every year, the Parks Team has to find a way to dispose of large quantities of the autumn leaves which fall in our parks; and the easiest thing to do would be to send them for processing as green waste by our contractor in the Mendips, along with all of the other green waste that the Council and residents of B&NES generate. However, this would incur a significant avoidable cost to the council, which in turn would be need to be borne by Council Tax payers.
To avoid this large cost and make best use of the leaves we take as many leaves as possible to allotments where they can be re-used by allotment holders; and we compost some in various locations in parks where the leaves can be turned back into a useable leaf-mould compost which can be used on parks’ shrub borders. In the same way that fallen leaves can be turned into a good compost, they also help to enrich the soil and provide a habitat for invertebrates; which in turn provides food for birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife – all part of the natural cycle!!
We also have to compost leaves in public parks and leave them in situ to decompose naturally; for example in Kensington Meadows and Pennyquick Parks. We have done this for the past three years under an exemption licence from the Environment Agency and we aim to spread the leaves under the tree canopy to allow them to decompose naturally (and provide food and habitats for wildlife). To save time this year we’ve started accumulating leaves at the edge of the woodland at Pennyquick Park, and will be pushing them back into the woodland and spreading them more evenly later in the season. However, it’s likely that we will still be leaving occasional small piles at the woodland edges which, fingers crossed, will start to provide habitat piles for wildlife such as hedgehogs and grass snakes.