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Wild year for Maidenhead environmental group

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Environmental group Wild Maidenhead has had a successful year of events despite COVID and is encouraged by increased engagement with the council.

In its AGM, Wild Maidenhead reported that the number of local Wild groups continues to grow and there are now seven covering the whole borough including the WildSL6 young conservationists group.

The group’s Facebook supporters have grown to 1,700 people.

Wild Maidenhead is in a stable financial position despite the difficult year and has been able to use its income from events, donations and membership fees to employ an ecologist and pay 50 per cent of the cost to support its biodiversity ambitions for Battlemead Common.

A donation from the Shanly Foundation, the charitable arm of the Shanly Group, allowed volunteers to plant £500’s worth of wild plants in Ockwells Park for the benefit of bumblebees.

SUEZ recovery and recycling UK also provided ‘a significant grant’ of £1,250, earmarked for Wild Maidenhead’s Hedgehogs Superhighway Project.

Wild Maidenhead chair Fiona Hewer said in her chair’s report:“It's a pleasure to see so many people sharing their personal experiences of nature, learning about wildlife and enjoying some spectacular photographs.

“Following the adoption of the RBWM Environment and Climate Strategy in December 2020, the council is now fully engaged in creating a borough-wide biodiversity action plan.

“We meet frequently to support each other in a variety of projects. It has taken five years, but it is wonderful to have RBWM on board.”

The group’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) work has continued but has been impeded by lockdown. Projects supporting the LBAP’s species for special focus have included:

  • a Master’s degree dissertation on common toads by Edward Day of Imperial College
  • maintaining the toad ladders and increasing the area they cover
  • entering its citizen science stag beetle data into the iRecord national database
  • starting a Hedgehog Highways project;
  • planting for bumblebees at Ockwells and Thriftwood Park.

The group also ran its annual Wild About Gardens Awards, investigated ancient hedgerows at White Place Farm, planted native hedgerows at Battlemead and planted wildflowers and nectar-rich plants in public parks.

There were some troubling developments, too, such as the flooding over winter.

“Flooding of the Thames is a normal experience for our wildlife, but the impacts of increasing frequency due to climate change could be significant,” said Fiona.

The group expects to increase the number of small projects it can arrange in the coming year, including 10 per cent rewilding in Maidenhead parks, supporting the Wild About Gardens Project and a new project of Homes for House Sparrows.

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