Client: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
Service: Wetland Creation
Having already completed 2 projects at Bodenham Lake, HWT appointed JPR as the contractor for works on their newly acquired site further along the River Lugg. HWT has worked to reduce pollution entering the river, improve soil health and create wildlife corridors that are vital for wildlife to disperse throughout the landscape
Wetland work at Oaktree Farm, Herefordshire
In 2020, the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust purchased Oak Tree Farm, which lies in the heart of the Lugg Valley. These riverside fields have fantastic potential to become a steppingstone for wetland wildlife between Bodenham Lake nature reserve and Wellington Gravel Pits, two of the most important sites for wetland birds in the county. The Trust were awarded funding from National Highways as part of their Network for Nature programme to create a wetland at Oak Tree Farm of shallow pools, ponds, wet grassland and reedbed, enhancing the ecological corridor running through the landscape.
The new wetland will provide food and nesting habitat for some of our iconic wetland wildlife species which are becoming increasingly threatened. The site will have public access to two bird hides and form part of the Trust’s suite of Lugg Valley nature reserves, where people will be able to enjoy the babble of the curlew and watch the fuzzy lapwing chicks running around from the bird hides.
Comprehensive design work had already been completed and planning permission had been granted for the creation of the new wetland nature reserve. Three previously arable fields were now ready to be turned into a valuable area of new habitat featuring a large semi-permanent wetland area, 7 scrapes, a large pond and a host of other great features.
The project started in August 2022 with large scale earthworks to create the main wetland features in the summer months. In this phase over 3,000 cubic metres of soil were excavated from the flood plain adjacent to the river and transported to the top of the site to create a new trackway. The ponds and scrapes began to fill naturally with rainwater as well as from a newly created interception swale that channelled and cleaned run off from the highway into the site.
As summer turned to autumn the site team were able to carry out clearance works on hedgerows to improve site access. A block of conifers was also felled and the timber used to create an otter holt on the banks of the river.
The winter months saw the installation of stock fencing, creation of formal access from the highway and a parking area.
As the site settles into its new life it will provide fantastic new habitat for wildlife. The wetland features will attract wading birds, dragonflies and amphibians. Whilst the wildflower areas across the site will be great for invertebrates and butterflies. Signs of badger and deer using the site have already been spotted.