Posted 28th Feb 2018
Managing a reserve for wildlife is something of a delicate balancing act. Some areas will need regular intervention to remain in their desired condition - others are best left to nature
People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) owns and manages two very different wildlife reserves for wildlife, Briddlesford Woods on the Isle of Wight and Rough Hill Orchard in Worcestershire.
Laura Bower, Conservation Officer, provides an insight into the Trust's two reserves...
The Isle of Wight is well known for its 'nationally important' red squirrel population, but there are also dormice and rare Bechstein's bats living in the area. To support these species, a long-rotation (15-20 years) coppicing regime has been established, ensuring there's a good supply of hazelnuts for the red squirrels and dormice to eat.
A network of rides and glades allows light to reach the woodland floor, benefitting wild flowers, butterflies and other invertebrates. Interspersed between the woods, there are several fields of wildflower-rich grass which are grazed by cattle. In the last 10 years, 14 ponds have been dug by the PTES, adding value to the grassland area. Ponds provide valuable areas for bats to feed, for dragonflies and amphibians to breed, and give birds and mammals somewhere to drink or bathe.
Rough Hill Orchard
Rough Hill is a beautiful, small, traditional orchard on the banks of the River Avon in Worcestershire. Rough Hill is slowly being restored with the re-introduction of grazing to ensure the bramble re-growth is kept in check. There are 40 very old apple trees, while in the last decade, there have been 65 more apples and 25 plum trees planted.
The orchard is a haven for insect life, as it's home to 19 nationally scarce and four Red Data book species. It’s also home to harvest mice, great dodder (a parasitic plant) and lesser horseshoe bats. Even the orchard floor is of national significance, as unimproved pasture of this kind is now an extremely rare sight in the UK.
Bower said: "Winter is the busiest time of year for working at both the reserves. With the help of our wonderful team of volunteers, we have been clearing brambles and flailing the hedgerows at Rough Hill before spring growth starts."
Images courtesy of PTES