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National Highways and The Wildlife Trusts teaming up to rejuvenate Moor Copse nature reserve



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Moor Copse nature reserve is one of the areas set for restoration as part of a £6m project, which aims to improve wildlife habitats across England.

National Highways and The Wildlife Trusts have partnered up and created the Network for Nature programme which aims to create, restore and connect places for wildflowers, trees and wildlife where the environment has been impacted by activities from road building.

Moor Copse, which is directly adjacent to the M4 south of Tidmarsh, will be one of 26 biodiversity projects that aim to enhance, restore and create more than 1,700 acres of woodlands, grasslands, peatlands and wetlands across the country.

Bluebells on the edge of woodland in Moor Copse, credit: Kate Dent (56850216)
Bluebells on the edge of woodland in Moor Copse, credit: Kate Dent (56850216)

A total of £260,000 has been given to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust to carry out the three-and-a-half year project in Moor Copse that began last October.

Berkshire land manager for BBOWT, Tom Hayward, said: "We’re really excited about these works: Moor Copse is already a natural treasure trove for Berkshire, with meadows, pastures and woodland on the banks of the Pang, and this funding will enable us to plant some new trees and create a new pond with still water that will provide new habitat for amphibians and invertebrates. This will help make an already-thriving nature reserve even richer for wildlife and visitors."

Located in the Pang Valley, the nature reserve’s tranquil woodlands and pastures is thought to have inspired EH Shepard to illustrate The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

The River Pang in Moor Copse, credit: Clive Ormonde (56850218)
The River Pang in Moor Copse, credit: Clive Ormonde (56850218)

The moist ground caused by the River Pang meandering through the area has meant Moor Copse has become home to a wide variety of different flora and fauna.

The restoration project, titled The Woodland Wonders of Moor Copse, has a host of different aims which hope to help the wildlife affected by the pollution and noise from the nearby motorway.

The River Pang in Moor Copse, credit: Helen Taylor (56850231)
The River Pang in Moor Copse, credit: Helen Taylor (56850231)

Network for Nature programme manager for The Wildlife Trusts, Nikki Robinson, said: “Historic road building programmes have contributed to nature’s decline, fragmenting wild spaces and causing environmental pollution, and this programme will help wildlife trusts throughout England carry out important nature conservation work.”

Glades in the area will be opened up to encourage the growth of bluebells, wood anemones and primrose. These will become feeding grounds for butterflies such as white admirals and silver-washed fritillaries.

Moor Copse in 2005, credit: Jim Asher (56850252)
Moor Copse in 2005, credit: Jim Asher (56850252)

New trees and hedges will be planted to benefit local dormouse and bat populations, and improved fencing and gates will be installed to protect new growth from deer. The new pond that will be created will be a sanctuary for dragonflies and amphibians.

The Woodland Wonders of Moor Copse project comes after there was an outbreak of ash dieback disease at the nature reserve in 2020, with many trees having to be cleared to stop the spread.



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