IMPROVEMENTS are set to be made to one of the most important sites in Malvern Hills district with regard to helping the environment and providing habitats for wildlife, writes William Rogers.
Malvern Hills District Council has joined forces with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to improve biodiversity in Hallow Meadow in the River Severn floodplain with the 18 hectares of degraded arable land seen as an area in which habitats can be restored.
The work of the RSPB will provide a sanctuary for vulnerable meadow plants, such as snakes-head fritillary and mammals including several bat species.
The River Severn is an important bird migration highway and the restored fen and marsh habitat would form an invaluable refuelling site for hard-pressed migratory birds, whilst enabling declining species such as lapwings and redshanks to breed.
Wetland areas are being expanded and wet woodlands managed to increase the amount of carbon captured, whilst reducing net greenhouse gas emissions.
The 2021 Environment Act introduced Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements for all major planning applications and from November 2023 developers will have to assess the biodiversity value of their site and demonstrate a minimum 10 per cent net gain in post-development biodiversity.
The council has recognised the potential for generating income from its landholdings to developers through BNG and the authority says the land at Hallow offers tremendous potential with those revenues funding further worthwhile environmental schemes.
Alastair Pounder, the council’s recently appointed Biodiversity Project Officer, will focus on the regeneration of the Hallow Meadow site to create a species-rich meadow of grasses and wildflowers, improving the soil and floodplain meadow through careful livestock grazing and a hay cut in late summer.
Mr Pounder said: “The council’s investment in land at Hallow demonstrated foresight in a changing environment.
“It provides the opportunity to restore and conserve precious habitats for wildlife and people in the district while contributing to climate resilience through carbon capture, improving water quality and alleviating flooding”
Simon Evans, the Secretary of Worcester and Malvern RSPB local group, added: “The Worcester and Malvern RSPB local group are thrilled to be working with the MHDC to enhance the biodiversity and carbon capture of this site.
“We are able to call on the help of our enthusiastic membership, and we have access to expert advice and support from RSPB.”