Nature network update – April 2024


Nature enhancement 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 enhancement projects and volunteer work parties for April 2024.

1. Giant Hogweed Removal

Giant Hogweed is a non-native invasive species. The best way to control Giant Hogweed is by digging it out – taking care to ensure it doesn’t touch any skin surfaces.

Bristly hairs on the stems and undersides of the leaves exude toxins. If the sap makes contact with bare skin it can react with sunlight leading to severe blistering of the skin. It appears that not everybody has the same severity of reaction. 

Volunteers helped to dig out more Giant Hogweed from riparian land in the Nature Recovery Core Zone B (River Brett). Each year we are finding less to dig out!

There was also great work by volunteers helped to clear a stubborn patch of Giant Hogweed at Layham Mill. We’ll head back later in the year to mop up any stragglers. More Giant Hogweed control work was also carried out in Middleton.

2. Tool maintenance and nursery building

Amazing work by the volunteers who helped to sharpen lots of tools at our Ipswich HQ and build a mini tree nursery next to our wildlife pond they built last year! Big well done to everyone involved.

3. Project funding update

£30,000 has been secured through the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Improvement Fund. This will enable us to continue working with the EA, NGOs and landowners. This is great news for wildlife in the National Landscape!

4. Nature Network target update

Target: The installation of 2,000 swift boxes and 330 callers by 2030

Progress: 565 swift boxes installed to date – 28.3% complete. 1,435 still to go out to achieve 2030 target. If you know of any suitable sites and willing recipients, please let me know at

Upcoming tasks:

  • Friday 17th May – Chelsworth – Tree maintenance
  • Friday 24th May – Bylam Wood, Chelmondiston – Stag beetle pyramid building
  • Friday 31th May – Shelley Hall – Himalayan balsam control
  • Friday 7th June – Viking Forest, Shotley – Stag beetle pyramid building
  • Friday 14th June – Giffords Hall, Higham – Himalayan balsam control