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Manor Farm made even more magnificent!
Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) has been awarded funding from Biffaward and The Veolia Environmental Trust to improve Manor Farm, Byfleet, for wildlife and for people who visit the nature reserve. Both grants were awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund.
Manor Farm, which was formerly agricultural land and intensively farmed for salad crops, has been transformed by SWT into wildlife-rich meadows and pasture. The 25 hectare reserve is divided by native hedgerow into fields which attract skylarks, pied wagtails, linnets and roe deer, and a small area of wet meadow (an increasingly rare habitat in Surrey) is an established haven for wildlife. The Trust grazes its cattle on the fields which further improves biodiversity.
The Veolia Environmental Trust has kindly awarded a grant of £2,800 for 900m of new hedgerow - consisting of 4,986 hedge plants and 10 trees – that will connect with existing hedgerows on the reserve, providing more valuable habitat and acting as a ‘wildlife corridor’ for birds and small mammals. The hedgerow will be planted by local volunteers and school children, with help from the site ranger.
It’s not just the wildlife that’s getting a boost at the reserve; Biffaward has kindly awarded £16,218 for the creation of a bird hide, which will allow visitors to view birds and other creatures there. The existing, derelict old pump house overlooking the River Wey and an area of wet meadow, often visited by wading birds, will be converted into a bird hide and contain interpretation displays so that visitors can identify and learn about the species they spot. The hide, and path leading to it, will be camouflaged with new hedging to avoid disrupting wildlife as users enter.
James Herd, SWT ranger, said: “Hedgerows are a habitat that has undergone a national decline over the last few decades, mainly due to agricultural intensification. They provide food, shelter and breeding sites for a wide variety of animals; increasing the amount present at Manor Farm will also help connect existing hedgerows, allowing some of the more secretive animals to move around the site whilst remaining safe in the hedgerow. The bird hide will allow the local community to play an important part in monitoring the wildlife present at the site and gain a greater understanding of the diversity of life it contains.”
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Margaret Cobbold, said: “The Trust supports community and environmental projects throughout the UK. We are happy to be helping this scheme. As well as it improving an important habitat, it will also give volunteers and young people the chance to join in and make a difference to our environment.”
Assistant Programme Manager at Biffaward, Cath Hare, said: “Biffaward is keen to support projects which improve access to the countryside and encourage us to learn more about our natural environment. This project does both and the improvements will mean that more people will be able to enjoy all that Manor Farm has to offer throughout the year.”