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Current Conservation projects

Each year the Ranger Service will try to tackle some of the larger areas of conservation concern on the nature reserves. What these projects are will frequently depend on us being able to attract help from partners and/or through the acquisition of grant funding, hence the below list represents our aspirations for the coming season.

Habberley Valley (November 2021)

This autumn/winter we will be continuing our work to reduce the about of holly in the understorey of the woodland. This work will be done without using vehicles in the woodland as we must ensure ground compaction is avoided.

Rifle Range (November 2021 to February 2022)

Removal of the tree species from within the hedgelines across the reserve. This maintains the gorse scrub and Thorn as good nesting habitat for the bird species such as Yellow Hammer and Stonechat. The open habitat of the Rifle Range is under constant encroachment from woody species such as Broom, Birch and European Gorse. The cattle do a good job, but require some assistance. We will be targeting this encroachment via a combination of mowing and hand weeding.

Burlish Top (November and December 2021)

Once the cattle have completed their graze, there will be some mowing of woody species such as broom, Birch and Bramble that are encroaching onto the meadow areas. We also hope to create some bee banks this winter to support our populations of solitary bees and wasps while providing areas for wildflowers to set seed.

The viewing area that looks across Droppingwells farm and the Severn Valley Railway will be opened up once again. This will involve felling of some Silver birch and heavy pruning of an Oak tree.

Burlish Meadows (December 2021 to February 2022)

Work will continue on the newest addition to Burlish Meadows this autumn/winter. More improvements are required to improve the ponds. The two smaller ponds created by us, since being fenced off have begun to get a good covering of vegetation, we can now look to adding some pond plants. In the case of the large pool near the dual carriageway, removal of more goldfish is required. The goldfish strip vegetation from the bed of the pond and stir up the silt causing poor conditions for the other inhabitants. Last year, over a thousand were removed, but there are still large numbers. The fish will not be euthanized but rehomed after a period of quarantine.

We have an exciting project planned for the section of the meadows nearest Burlish top. This autumn/winter we will be removing turf from a large area to expose the lower nutrient soils. This will then be seeded with an appropriate, native seed mix. This will have many benefits for the wildlife of both Burlish top and the meadows by improving availability of relevant nectar sources for the pollinators in that area. A by-product of the work will be large areas of temporary bare ground which will be used as nesting sites for the areas solitary bee, wasp and Green tiger beetle populations.

Work has begun to install a system of ‘self-filling’ water troughs. This will mean that vehicles have to make less journeys across the meadows to deliver water.

Puxton Marsh (November to December 2021)

The marshes have some pollarded willows that are due for some work to prolong their life. Pollarding allows the trunk of the tree to age and grow without the weight of large branches causing it to fall apart. These old gnarly trunks are fantastic wildlife features.

Some willows are also going to be removed from around an old ‘oxbow’ feature within the marsh. This area of standing water is important for the amphibians, reptiles and waders that use the area, so maintaining the open feature is important.

Winter works 2022/2023 update

Rifle Range SSSI 

There is a mixture of work planned for this important Heathland. Contractors and council staff will be on site removing scrubby species (such as bramble, broom, birch and oak saplings) from the open grasslands. Dense scrub is an important nesting habitat for many heathland species so where hedgerows or islands of dense scrub are present, some larger trees will be removed to maintain this environment.

Burlish Local Nature Reserve

There is lots of scrubby species to remove from the open grasslands this winter. You will see contractors, volunteers and council staff on site carrying out this work.

The woodland at the Stourport end of the reserve suffers from an invasive plant known as Yellow Balsam. This year we hope to be able to target it and prevent it seeding to break the cycle. This means, that over the winter we will be cutting back the bramble to enable us to access the balsam in the summer. Once the work is carried out, the bramble will be allowed to recolonise.

Burlish Meadows

We will be creating a large scrape on the hillside below Burlish Top this autumn, removing the turf and the first few inches of topsoil. This will then be seeded with native wildflowers, relevant to the surrounding habitats of Burlish top.

Butterfly Conservation have recorded a scarce butterfly on the meadows known as the White-letter hairstreak. This butterfly relies on Elms as its larval foodplant, sadly most of the elms on site have suffered from Dutch elm disease and are perishing. In order to assist the species survive into the future, West Midlands Butterfly Conservation have supplied us with some disease resistant strains of the elm to replant.

Puxton Marsh

Puxton Marsh has many old ‘pollarded’ willows throughout the site. These trees are particularly good habitat for nesting birds, and also allow the willow trunks to mature without falling apart from the weight of the limbs. This work is required every five years or so but we avoid doing them all in one go to maintain the important nesting habitat. This year we will be doing around 30% of them.

We will also be removing some willow that are now growing in the wettest parts of the marsh. The reedbed is important to many species so it is essential we maintain it, this winter a contractor will be removing these by hand, along with a few on the banks that cause shading.


Blakemarsh also requires a percentage of its pollards to be re-cut. We will be aiming to do around 30 to 50% of them this winter. This may open up some views across the allotments temporarily until they re-sprout next spring.

The boardwalk running through the wetland is in need of some work. These structures are very expensive to maintain, both in materials and staff time. We are looking to remove a proportion of the timber walkway and replace it with a compacted stone track of the same height. The portion that is particularly high will eventually be replaced with a recycled plastic version over the next year or so.

Mitton Marsh

This is a relatively new site for us to maintain. There is a variety of work planned for this season. There will be some large willows removed from the marshland along with any that require safety work near pathways and property boundaries.

Plans for the future

For this winter, a new  way-marked trail that links the new car park created on Kingsway to Burlish Meadows, Burlish Top nature reserve and further afield to the Rifle Range site of special scientific interest, which we are in the process of designing already.

More information on Heathland Restoration Works across the district.

If you are interested in helping or finding out more please see our volunteering page.

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