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Charity’s amphitheatre plan inspired by Cornish cliff arena

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A NATURAL amphitheatre – that could be used for small events, for talks or by schools – is being created in a valley above Val de la Mare reservoir.

Gerard Farnham, Chairman of Jersey Trees for Life, at the amphitheatre project at Val de La Mare reservoir

Charity Trees for Life are behind the project, which they hope will be Jersey’s answer to the Minack Theatre – a venue carved into cliffs above the Atlantic near Land’s End in Cornwall.

Gerard Farnham, chairman of the charity, said the area was along the main walking route from the Grand Route de St Pierre car park towards the Chinese section of the arboretum.

About 20 sycamore trees – some dead – have been cut down to clear the area, but Mr Farnham said he hoped biodiversity would be boosted and stressed trees were felled outside the bird-nesting season. The trunks of the felled trees will be used to make furniture for the area.

‘Sycamore is like a weed, yes they are trees, but if they are not dealt with they takeover, they are not native,’ he said. ‘We have removed a few sycamores from the valley and we are using trunks of those to make benches to sink into the ground.

‘Eventually what we hope is the valley floor will be grass and meadow-like and people will be able to come along and sit. At the moment it’s very marshy, but new sunlight will change that.’

The arboretum was founded in the 1970s in memory of Islander Nigel Moores, who died in a car accident in the south of France. It now has at least 12 sections dedicated to different types of tree and different parts of the world.

Work on the amphitheatre has been ongoing for about a year, but all clearing work is now complete.

Mr Farnham, who stressed it would be some time before the area was looking its best, added: ‘We wanted this to be very natural. The shape of the valley is just built to be an amphitheatre. Like the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, we hope all sorts of events can be held here in a beautiful natural location. It’ll be suitable for nature classes, teaching, for talks and small events.

‘We will be putting up nest boxes and these changes are favourable to the environment – it’s part of our plan to improve biodiversity. Clearing the area also improves flight access of birds getting to the water.

‘This is a well-thought-out plan and not something off the cuff. Our remit at Trees for Life is to plant trees but the right trees in the right places.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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