The Warwickshire Country Parks service has led a comprehensive work drive at Ufton Fields Nature Reserve, a site that was brought back under the management of Warwickshire County Council earlier th...
The Warwickshire Country Parks service has led a comprehensive work drive at Ufton Fields Nature Reserve, a site that was brought back under the management of Warwickshire County Council earlier this year.
Country Park rangers from across the county joined forces with volunteers from the local area and representatives of Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire in a collaborative effort aimed to address challenges posed by excessive scrub encroachment which threatens the biodiversity of the grassland, particularly in the Man Orchid and Snipe Meadows of the site.
The initiative marks a significant step in preserving and enhancing the chalky habitat which can only be found on a handful of sites in Warwickshire. The chalky - or ‘calcareous’ - grassland supports a rich array of rare species such as Yellow-wort, Ploughman’s Spikenard, Greater Butterfly Orchids, Man Orchids, Woolly Thistle, Herb Paris and Autumn Gentian. The site, situated on a discontinued limestone quarry, requires meticulous conservation efforts to protect its delicate ecosystem.
The team successfully cleared a substantial amount of scrub - or shrubland - from Snipe Meadow, rejuvenating the ground for grassland regeneration. In the Man Orchid Meadow, the only site in Warwickshire known to contain Man Orchid, an annual cut and rake was conducted to maintain the grassland sward’s ‘bowling green’ appearance, fostering healthy competition among orchids and surrounding plants. Swathes of shrubland were targeted to create a more favourable environment for the rare orchids to thrive and expand.
During the day, participants uncovered the first circular clusters of leaves (rosettes), of next year’s Man Orchid, with six already showing. These early records mark a significant milestone in the preservation of this rare species.
The team also supported on-going work to tackle Ash Dieback, a disease caused by fungal spores which penetrate the leaves and bark of Ash trees, eventually killing the tree. Management of this disease includes monitoring and retaining the trees with resilience to this fungus and selectively thinning the trees that pose the highest risk to the public. The team removed unhealthy Ash trees from the edge of the car park and alongside a path, ensuring the safety of site users in the long run.
Follow-up days are planned to tidy up the completed work and address any remaining scrub blocks. The Warwickshire Country Parks rangers will monitor the Orchids throughout the winter and conduct weed control in spring to keep the grassland in optimal condition.
Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Ufton Fields Nature Reserve is a jewel in Warwickshire's natural heritage, and the collaborative efforts of our dedicated teams and volunteers exemplify our commitment to preserving its unique ecosystem.
“The work undertaken ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy and be inspired by the rich biodiversity that defines this remarkable site. Our ongoing investment in the conservation of Ufton Fields reflects our dedication to environmental stewardship and creating a sustainable future for Warwickshire. I extend my sincere thanks to all involved for their hard work and passion in safeguarding this precious natural asset.”
To find out more about volunteering opportunities with Warwickshire Country Parks, please email email@example.com.