BioCap is working with Sulham Estate and the Woodmeadow Trust to transform 130ha of arable land into a wildlife haven on the borders of Tilehurst.
The aim will be to restore soils, reduce inputs, promote biodiversity and facilitate the well being of local people though access to the land and perhaps continued involvement in the monitoring and management of the area.
The plans aim to create a diversity of habitats in a mosaic of woodland, meadows, hedges, scrub and wetlands. This summer has seen the area thoroughly surveyed to ensure we know what is present now and in order that the future plans can take account of important existing species and habitats. Old maps have been perused and important features that have been lost will be reinstated where possible. Hedgerows will provide wildlife corridors and new woodland with gldes, rides and scrub edges will planted. With the help of the Freshwater habitats Trust new ponds and wetlands will be created and established ponds managed.
The area is likely to be managed by traditional methods with modern equipment to produce abundant wildlife and high quality food.
January 2023 Update
At the start of 2023 the Sulham Woodmeadows project is progressing into the final planning stage. BioCap has been working closely with the estate and the Woodmeadow Trust to draw up detailed habitat maps and develop a timeline for implementation. The estate will be undertaking their final year of planting crops with reduced or no inputs to help prepare the soil for meadow seed and tree planting.
The Freshwater Habitat Trust has been on site to dig test pits for new ponds and are advising on suitable locations and how best to manage these areas for great crested newts and other species in future years. We are seeking advice on a proposed wetland creation to the north of the site. Members of the local community are involved in the monitoring of the site and special care has been taken within the planning stage to maintain or improve public access.
By analysing extensive survey results and working with the landscape a plan has been developed that takes advantage of existing topography, soil condition neighbouring woodland, public access, historical features and existing species that occupy the site. The resulting plan is a mosaic of habitats that will create a haven for wildlife for decades to come, transforming the levels of biodiversity and carbon sequestration at the same time.
It’s an exciting time for the project and we are looking forward to sharing the plans with the community.