AGM 2016 – Chair’s Report

Over the past year the Conservation Group has held regular work parties, concentrating on maintaining paths, clearing encroaching bracken, scrub and saplings and mowing paths and small areas of grassland. Larger areas were mowed by a contractor in October. The group has commenced work on a long-neglected area near the lorry park which has suffered from littering and fly-tipping, but with management will become a valuable wildlife habitat.

The group has benefited from its involvement with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Networking Nature project. A training session on plant identification located over forty species of grass and flowering plants in one area of grassland. A guided walk organised by Butterfly Conservation recorded nineteen species of butterfly on the site. Although the Suffolk Wildlife Trust project has ended Butterfly Conservation will be holding another identification session in July.

The Conservation Group communicated the results of these surveys through its website and through the Red Lodge Turnpike magazine. It aims to ensure the community is aware of Red Lodge Heath’s importance as a wildlife site. The group plans to hold a guided walk so that residents can learn about the SSSI and how it is managed for the benefit of wildlife. It is hoped that more residents will become involved with the group. Although the numbers attending work parties are low, they keep the site in good condition and are to be thanked for their commitment and hard work. The Conservation Group would welcome more volunteers for practical conservation work.

A contribution from the landowner has ensured essential costs such as insurance can be met, and funding has been allocated from the district council for equipment for conservation work.

In common with other wildlife sites in built-up areas Red Lodge Heath suffers from domestic fly-tipping, littering and dog-fouling. The additional dog-waste bins installed in Turnpike Road may help to alleviate this problem.

A new Management Plan has been produced and it is hoped that a dialogue between all the parties involved: landowners, Natural England, the District Council, wildlife organisations and the Conservation Group will result in an action plan that will improve the well-being of the SSSI and its wildlife and ensure that the heath will continue to be a much-appreciated amenity in Red Lodge.

Jennifer Hall