In the past year the Conservation Group has held regular work parties, with conservation work entreing a maintenance stage: clearing and mowing paths, clearing encroaching bracken, scrub and saplings. agrant from a councillor’s locality budget was used to purchase and repair tools and equipment for this esential work. The larger areas of grassland were mowed in September by a contractor, and this has reduced the re-growth of bracken, increasing the amount of acid and chalk grassland which is an important feature of the site.
Although few in numbers, the volunteers at work parties keep the heath in good condition, and this is recognised by visitors, who comment favourably about the site. It is important to sustain the good management of the SSSI and the Conservation Group would like to encourage more members of the community to join them in caring for the site. New members are very welcome. In the autumn and winter months the group was joined by a Year 11 student who was working towards the volunteering component of his Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award.
It was good to see the Interpretation Boards installed in September 2014. The seven panels cover various aspects of the history, wildlife and exploitation of the site and its relation to the local community and Breckland landscape. The boardshave generated much interest from visitors to the site and can be used as an educational rsource. However, it is disappointing to report that one panel has already been vandalised only eight months after its installation.
The Conservation Group has been involved with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Networking Nature Project and has benefited from its input. Officers from the Wildlife Trust have organised two activity sessions for families, one in October 2014 and one in April 2015 which was well supported with 70 people attending. The Trust has also organised two educational sessions: one to be held in June 2015 on the Breckland flora found on the site and one in July 2015 on butterflies. This knowledge will enable the Conservation Group to develop their own resources for residents nad children to observe the wildlife on the SSSI. Some classes from St Christopher’s Primary School have visited the site this year and it hoped these visits will continue. An article about the SSSI featured in the Spring newsletter of the Breckland Society, which may encourage more visitors to the site.
A new management plan is in preparation which will build on the achievements of previous years. I shoukd like to thank all the members of Red Lodge Conservation Group for all their hard work and the many they contribute to ensure Red Lodge Heath SSSI is an important haven for Breckland wildlife and avalued asset to the local community.