Community works together to restore wetland

Apart from working very hard for three days, the team enjoyed lots of cake, toasted marshmallows, hot drinks and laughter
Apart from working very hard for three days, the team enjoyed lots of cake, toasted marshmallows, hot drinks and laughter

It has been wonderful to see the community working together to restore wetland in West Wittering.

The work of community-led conservation charity Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group and residents has seen an overgrown area given a new lease of life.

Before: The neglected area on land owned by Cakeham Manor Estate

Before: The neglected area on land owned by Cakeham Manor Estate

The group has received welcome help from West Wittering residents with its Fixing and Linking our Wetlands (FLOW) Project to transform a neglected wild area into a site managed for wildlife.

Jane Reeve, FLOW Project manager, said: “We always aim to make volunteer tasks fun and it is a great way of getting to know new people, carrying out satisfying work, and learning about wildlife and the environment around us.

“We provide copious cake and tea and always leave feeling great and knowing we have made a difference. We would love to have new volunteers help us tackle summer surveys and restoration of more sites this autumn.”

The group, which has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, is dedicated to the restoration of habitats and heritage, and caring for the shared green spaces of the Manhood Peninsula, south of Chichester.

After: A wetland home for wildlife for generations to come

After: A wetland home for wildlife for generations to come

The recent work took place on land owned by Cakeham Manor Estate, between The Wad and Beach Road.

By cutting back bramble and fallen trees, creating a dead hedge and multiple log piles for insects and birds, they revealed an attractive wetland that will provide a home for wildlife for generations to come.

The wetland had been identified as having potential for improvement a year earlier, when ditches and hedgerow across the entire parish were surveyed as part of the Heritage Lottery funded FLOW Project.

A stream that runs through the site was completely shaded by bramble, dead trees and ivy. Experienced wildlife volunteers worked with residents to open up the banks and let light flood in.

It is hoped, with time, the rare water vole may extend its range to this site. Picture: Joan North

It is hoped, with time, the rare water vole may extend its range to this site. Picture: Joan North

This will enable a greater range of plants to grow on the ground and provide food for insects and birds. Dead trees and brambles were turned into homes for hedgehogs, small mammals and invertebrates.

It is hoped that with time, the rare water vole may extend its range to this site.

One resident that got involved said: “The area has had an amazing transformation. I will watch with interest over the coming months to see what it looks like with the extra light and fewer brambles.”

Through the project, several sites across the Manhood Peninsula are being recovered to provide better wildlife habitats, assets for communities to visit and enjoy, and to improve capacity for holding water during high rainfall events.

Visit www.mwhg.org.uk or find Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group on Facebook to find out more.

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