Boggy problem solved at Petworth nature reserve

Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteer Youth Rangers on the new boardwalk. Picture: Sussex Wildlife Trust/Jane Willmott
Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteer Youth Rangers on the new boardwalk. Picture: Sussex Wildlife Trust/Jane Willmott
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Visitors to Burton and Chingford Ponds Nature Reserve can now enjoy close-up views of wildlife, thanks to the completion of a £25,000 project.

Boggy problems at the Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve, three miles south of Petworth, have been resolved by replacing a damaged boardwalk.

The project to make the reserve a more accessible, vibrant habitat for all to enjoy was led by the trust and carried out by volunteers.

The boardwalk, which crosses the Black Hole bog, is now sturdier and has a safety rail.

Paths and the habitat around it have been improved, with bracken and rhododendron controlled to allow heathland plants to flourish and help restore an important heathland habitat.

Jane Willmott, Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve officer, said: “We are so pleased with the results of this project.

“The bog bean and dragonflies are already responding to the work and I am looking forward to seeing how the scrapes develop. I have had lots of positive comments about the new boardwalk, too.”

Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteers, including the Youth Rangers, aged 16 to 25 years, helped with various aspects of the project, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable conservation and wildlife identification skills.

The boardwalk was over 15 years old and, despite volunteers’ best efforts, it was slowly disintegrating and sinking into the bog.

Overgrown vegetation from wet areas of the bog was removed to improve its potential as a home for a variety of plant species, such as bog bean and marsh cinqfoil, and a host of insect species, including dragonflies.

On dry, heathy areas of the reserve, turf has been removed to create shallow depressions, or ‘scrapes’, of exposed sandy soil which will benefit jewel wasps and field crickets.

Burton and Chingford Ponds Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and comprises an array of habitats, including ponds, bogs, heathland and woodland, with a nature trail winding through. It receives more than 20,000 visits from people of all ages every year.

The project was supported by the Veolia Environmental Trust, which awarded a grant of £23,750 through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Paul Taylor, executive director, said: “We support community and environmental projects across England and Wales. It is always great to hear about the finish of one we have supported.

“This one will bring many benefits for the reserve, the species found there, and its visitors. It has also given young volunteers a chance to develop new skills, and they need to be thanked for their hard work and contribution.”

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