New Forest Meadows Project underway in Swindon
A new project to enhance urban meadows and forest habitats while improving people’s health and wellbeing was launched in Swindon on Monday morning (3rd February) by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) and Swindon Borough Council (SBC).Published: Tuesday, 4th February 2020
Councillors Gary Sumner and Maureen Penny, SBC’s Cabinet Members for Strategic Planning and Transport & the Environment respectively, joined WWT’s newly appointed Swindon Reserves Manager Neil Pullen and members of the WWT Wellbeing Programme at Moulden Hill Country Park to discuss how the project will benefit both wildlife and local residents’ wellbeing.
WWT and SBC are currently working at Moulden Hill on a project to enhance biodiversity funded by a grant from Network Rail. This funding comes after recent upgrades to the Great Western Route Modernisation electrification programme and seeks to offset impacts on biodiversity by enhancing habitats elsewhere.
The Forest Meadows Project is a three-year programme funded by SBC through developer contributions and other biodiversity grants. It will enhance the management and wildlife of existing grassland areas, including where possible the reintroduction of wildflowers and more traditional management of the meadows.
This will benefit a range of species, including pollinators such as bees. Grazing animals may also be introduced on some of the sites to improve biodiversity and aid land management.
The project will link in with existing health and wellbeing groups in Swindon to encourage their members to get involved in a wide range of activities, from the sowing and planting of wildflowers through to the biological monitoring of sites for wildlife such as butterflies and moths.
The project will cover 12 meadow and forest sites within the Borough, which together cover more than 170 hectares. Most of the sites are located along the corridor of the River Ray, but the project will also link to other areas including Sevenfields, the Lawns, Wroughton, Highworth, Penhill, Rodbourne Cheney, and WWT reserves with existing meadows.
WWT will lead the work in collaboration with SBC, parish councils, and local community groups.
Cllr Sumner said of the project’s launch: “We are absolutely committed as a Council to improving biodiversity throughout the Borough so we are really pleased to team up with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to deliver the Forest Meadows Project.
“It builds on our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint here in Swindon and ties in nicely with existing tree-planting and wildflower initiatives we have in place as we aim for a greener future.
“I am also extremely pleased this particular project will have a focus on improving people’s health and wellbeing and I look forward to seeing the Forest Meadows making a real difference to the lives of local people in years to come.
WWT’s Neil Pullen said: “I’m really looking forward to starting work in Swindon later this month. Thanks to projects such as the Great Western Community Forest, large areas of green space and corridors can be found in parts of Swindon Borough. There are also many people within the Borough who have expertise or willingness to get involved; the Forest Meadows project will be another outlet for them to be able to get outdoors and make a difference for wildlife and their local community.”