WCAG is working in partnership with Watlington Environment Group and other local groups to develop a Green Plan, aiming to improve and protect biodiversity in and around Watlington, and manage habitats better for carbon sequestration.
Anyone in Watlington can get involved, through activities such as improving gardens as wildlife habitats, surveying local hedgerows or supporting a community orchard.
Working to improve and connect the varied and special habitats around Watlington is vital. The area supports a wide range of habitats.
We are planning a number of short term and longer-term projects including:
A mapping project to identify where natural and semi-natural habitats are in the parish.
A hedgerow survey to identify where hedgerows can be improved
To encourage better management of road verges for wildlife
Creating a community orchard
Providing information and ideas on improving gardens as wildlife habitats
Providing input on new developments
Working with local landowners.
CHALK GRASSLAND WITH SCRUB
We have our very special chalk grasslands supporting a wide range of plants and invertebrates. Watlington Hill with its patchwork of grassland is an instantly recognisable part of the Chiltern countryside. Grasslands play a key role in storing carbon in the soil; the more biodiverse they are the better they are at storing carbon, and here in Watlington we have that high level of diversity with up to 40 species per square meter.
The chalk is interspersed with areas of scrub of different heights, which is important for creating a tapestry of habitats and increases the number of species in the area.
WOODLANDS & TREE PLANTING
Although tree planting has been identified as key for carbon sequestration, we are conscious that a wide range of natural and semi-natural habitats play a role in carbon sequestration, as does well-managed farmland with soils rich in organic matter. Watlington’s Green Plan will seek to identify suitable sites for tree planting and ensure that the right species are planted in the right place, and are then managed appropriately.
Watlington already has a number of Road Verge Nature Reserves, thanks to Watlington Environment Group. Instead of indiscriminate mowing of verges they can be managed for biodiversity, allowing wildflowers to grow, and attracting pollinators.
Watlington’s spring-fed chalk streams are a very special feature; such streams are a globally rare habitat, found only in southern England and parts of France. Their clear waters support invertebrates and trout and they create valuable biodiversity corridors
Hedgerows provide vital wildlife corridors connecting habitats, and their varied trees and shrubs support a wide range of species. Hedgerows are also a key landscape feature, and if well managed they help reduce soil erosion, provide flood defence, and sequester carbon.
We have started by mapping where the hedges are in the Parish and are obtaining permission from landowners for us to survey hedges on their land. We have recruited and trained a team of volunteers to carry out the survey using the P.T.E.S. (People's Trust for Endangered Species) guidelines, and are in the process of conducting the survey. This will enable us to get a picture of the condition of the hedgerows, and for a plan to be put together on how we can help improve the condition of existing hedgerows and hopefully to plant new ones.
If you are interested in helping with this project or have any questions please contact us.
Small in area but packing a big environmental punch for wildlife and carbon sequestration, ponds are in our plan as a habitat to protect and extend.
Most of the green space within the town is in the form of gardens, so we can all help to make our gardens as wildlife-friendly as possible and plant for biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
Agricultural land is the single largest land use around Watlington, so understanding how we can support landowners and farmers to improve biodiversity and carbon sequestration is a key objective.