Nature recovery update – March 2024

Dedham Pond

Nature recovery is a key part of our ongoing work to conserve and enhance the Dedham Vale National Landscape & Stour Valley. Our Nature Network Officer, Alex Moore da Luz, provides a round-up from all of our nature recovery projects and volunteer work parties for March 2024.

Opposite Dedham Pond

In partnership with the Environment Agency and a Dedham landowner, £3,500 has been spent on a new wildlife scrape and three timber guards for black poplar trees.

Although the scrape won’t contain water throughout the year, it will hold water for longer in the winter and possibly into the spring. This will provide more feeding opportunities for birds and damper conditions for different species of flora.

The black poplar trees will be fantastic additions for wildlife in the future. Their catkins provide an early source of pollen and nectar for insects and seeds for birds. They are the foodplant for lots of species of moth too including some spectacular ones like the wood leopard and the poplar hawk moth.

Higham – River Brett – Giant Hogweed Control

The Nature Network Volunteers braved some wet conditions to help manually control giant hogweed on the River Brett in Higham. Early spring is a great time to start giant hogweed control simply using spades to dig them out when they are still small and the ground is nicely moist.

Giant hogweed has decreased significantly in the River Brett Nature Recovery Core Zone over the last 10 years due to intensive efforts to control it. The long-term plan is to eradicate it completely from River Brett Nature Recovery Core Zone to enable native flora to flourish.

If giant hogweed is allowed to grow unchecked it will eventually out compete our native wild flora such as the opposite – leaved golden saxifrage and moschatel found growing in wet woodland. Giant hogweed can be safely controlled in its early growth stages as long as all skin surfaces are covered.

Boxted – River Stour

Four black poplar saplings were planted alongside the River Stour in Boxted. They are fantastic for moths including the hornet moth pictured to the left and other wildlife.

Chelsworth – River Brett

The last tree planting of the season was carried out on a farm in Chelsworth. These were the last of replacements needed for thousands planted on the farm over the last 8 years.

The huge diversity of trees and shrubs planted in pockets down a 4km stretch of the Brett will benefit hundreds of species of butterflies and moths. Birds set to benefit too include bullfinch, long-tailed tits, song thrush, greenfinch and many more.

Upcoming tasks:

  • Tuesday 2nd April – Cliff Farm, Sutton – Hedge gapping up
  • Wednesday 3rd April – Cliff Farm, Sutton – Hedge gapping up
  • Friday 5th April – Shelley / Higham – Giant Hogweed Control
  • Friday 12th April – Shelley / Higham Giant Hogweed Control
  • Wednesday 17th April – Saxon House, Ipswich – Tool Maintenance
  • Friday 19th April – Layham – Giant Hogweed Control
  • Friday 26th April – Cliff Farm, Sutton – Hedge Maintenance