Nature recovery

Update February 2022

The autumn and winter months have been a good time to make progress on our village Nature Recovery projects, which we have so far focussed on spaces owned by the Parish Council who have warmly supported us

Back in November, we made our first gentle steps towards creating wildflower mini-meadows in the village, with a pilot plot on the South West corner of The Green. We first removed as much as possible of the grass by mowing and scarifying, and then broadcasting a perennial wildflower mix on the surface. At the time of writing it is too early to see any growth, but we will be looking closely and anxiously as the weeks go by for the first signs of what we hope will be a meadow in full bloom by May. Our next step will be to plan where else to sow next year’s meadows in the autumn.

Meanwhile, WARG Field on Histon Road is showing signs of Spring already. We stopped mowing the field in the Summer last year, and within a few weeks it was full of wildflowers and insects. This year, we can already see rosettes of bee orchids growing vigorously and hope to see them flower, possibly for the first time in a few years. Together with the New Life on the Old West project, run by ACRE and funded by the National Lottery, we have created a small wildlife pond and planted a few apple trees

Winter has also been the time to get to grips with Fen Reeves wood (north of Brookfield Industrial site on Twenty Pence Rd) without disturbing nesting birds. Planted by volunteers in 1993, the wood has grown splendidly, but to optimise its value to wildlife as well as making it more attractive as a walking destination from Cottenham, we need to take nature in hand a little by thinning and coppicing some trees and by clearing some (but definitely not all) of the brambles and scrub. Again working with the New Life project, we have had 2 volunteer work parties hard at work opening the woodland floor up to the sky to encourage growth of a wider range of plants at ground level. Cottenham Scouts have very kindly made a number of bird boxes, and these will be in place before the Spring. Relatively young woodland does not have many cracks and holes for nesting, so keep an eye out for the results come early Summer.

Sadly, one other project funded by New Life, the creation of a decent sized pond on the Old Rec on Broad Lane, has not yet come to fruition. But the planning obstacles (ecology report, traffic management plan) have finally been overcome and we hope to get digging as soon as the ground is dry enough not to cause damage to the surrounding field.

For all these projects, we are very grateful to the support (and occasional hard work) of a growing number of volunteers. If you would like to be involved in future activities, please contact us naturerecovery@sustainablecottenham.org.uk