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Nature thrives again at The Chase

October 8, 2011




The National Trust is delighted to announce that The Chase at Woolton Hill is fully open again following a major project to rejuvenate the site as a nature reserve and improve public access.  Some further work to complete the project will be carried out over the next few weeks but this should not cause any significant disruption to visitors.

The Chase has been closed for 18 months to allow the work to continue safely and the National Trust would like to thank local people and regular visitors to the site for their patience and co-operation during that time.

The nature reserve has now re-opened with three newly created trails around the site, a resurfaced car-park, a new pond especially created for dogs to enjoy and boards with information about wildlife and points of interest at The Chase.

The project has involved significant thinning and coppicing of trees to ensure the future health of the trees and the habitat they create.  Major repairs have been carried out to the lake which was damaged by a serious pollution incident in 2006 and the fragile heathland habitat has been revived allowing endangered flora and fauna to thrive.

Five Shetland cows have been introduced to help maintain The Chase.  The natural grazing habits of these gentle herbivores will help to create and maintain an insect-friendly environment and improve the biodiversity of the nature reserve, which is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).  As they make their way through the woods they brush through lower branches of trees and so help to keep the glades open for butterflies and ground nesting birds.

This traditional approach to managing land will continue next spring with the introduction of pigs in fenced areas.  The pigs will eat bracken which, if left unchecked, spreads invasively and weakens the quality of the natural habitat.

“We are delighted with the results of this project and we’re getting lots of positive comments from regular walkers and new visitors,” says Property Manager Dave Green.  “The work was much needed and long overdue, so people will certainly notice big changes and it will be a while before the area softens up again.  The Chase was left to the National Trust as a nature reserve and so we have introduced a “dogs on leads” policy to protect the rich natural habitat and to allow non-dog owners to enjoy the site as well.”

The project at The Chase has been largely funded by Thames Water.  An event to highlight the benefits of the project will be held in spring 2012.

Author : Fliss Coombs – Regional Communications Advisor

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