Do you walk your dog on Red Lodge Heath? Perhaps you walk across it to the shops, school or Millennium Centre. Visitors to the heath often comment on how fortunate Red Lodge residents are to have such a beautiful wildlife site on their doorstep.
Ten years ago, the heath wasn’t such an attractive place. It was unfenced and every weekend quad bikes and motor bikes were driven all over the site. Cars were driven on to the heath and set alight. Waste, including toxic material, had been dumped on the site and there were concerns about anti-social behaviour. There were plans to build on much of the heath.
However, surveys showed that many rare insects and plants only found in the area called the Breckland still survived and Red Lodge Heath was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest to protect them. In 2007 with the support of Natural England, Forest Heath District Council and the landowner, the Red Lodge Conservation Group was formed.
The group consisted of local residents who helped with the practical work of looking after the site. Although major tasks such as clearing the site of 20 tons of waste and then fencing it to prevent access by off-road vehicles were done professionally, just like a garden, there are routine tasks to be done every season.
Brambles, branches and vegetation need to be cut back, paths need to be mowed, seedling trees need to removed from areas of open grass or sand to allow the special plants to grow and create good habitats for wildlife.
The group now has an opportunity to improve a neglected area of the SSSI next to the lorry park on Turnpike Road. This will need clearing but should make a good habitat for wildlife when the work is completed.
Over the years some of the original members of the Conservation Group have left and we now need more people to continue the work that has begun.
We have a work party once a month on the first Saturday, from 9.00 – 11. 15 am. We manage to get quite a lot of work done in two hours, even stopping for a tea-break! If you can help please get in touch using the contact form or come and speak to us when we are working on the heath. If you cannot be available every month we would still be pleased if you can help us when you can. All you need is to wear suitable outdoor clothes and strong shoes or boots, and because we are working around thorny vegetation make sure you have up-to-date anti-tetanus protection. You will keep fit, enjoy fresh air and meet new people.
As we use power tools our work parties are not suitable for small children.
Please help us to ensure Red Lodge Heath SSSI continues to be a great place for people and wildlife.