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Help for a habitat rarer than the rainforest

A heathland habitat, which is rarer than the rainforest, received a helping hand from electricity workers in the UK’s newest National Park.

From Press releases - 15 December 2017 12:00 AM

Help for a habitat rarer than the rainforest.jpg

UK Power Networks volunteers teamed up with South Downs National Park and Sussex Wildlife Trust to support conservation of an important heathland habitat in West Sussex.

Staff from the customer engagement department at UK Power Networks, the company which owns and maintains the electricity network across the South East, London and East of England, swapped their usual computers and phones for bowsaws and loppers to spend a day felling young birch trees at the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Iping and Stedham Commons nature reserve, near Midhurst.

Dan Cornell, South Downs National Park ranger who led the volunteers, said: “South Downs heathlands are rarer than rainforest and the plants and animals that live on them need lots of different ground cover. For example, rare reptiles and amphibians such as the natterjack toad need bare earth to feed and hunt. We leave some trees and gorse for the birds and remove others, opening up the landscape so that the heather and rare species that rely on it can thrive.

“We rely heavily on the help of volunteers to carry out this work and welcome groups to work with us and maintain this important habitat. We are grateful to UK Power Networks for their support.”

Julie Minns, head of customer engagement at UK Power Networks, said: “Our department work across several different sites so it was great to work together with the South Downs National Park and Sussex Wildlife Trust on such a worthwhile conservation project.

“It was hard work but we thoroughly enjoyed spending time in this beautiful nature reserve and played a small role in protecting a special habitat for future generations to enjoy.”

Jane Willmott, Reserve Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “We really welcome the help of corporate groups to supplement the vital work undertaken by our regular weekly volunteers.  Thanks to their efforts, rare heathland species including the nightjar and silver-studded blue butterfly will continue to thrive on Iping Common.”

UK Power Networks has a partnership with the nine Wildlife Trusts across the areas it serves in the South East, London and East of England. All staff have two days paid leave each year to volunteer or fund raise in their local community and many work on the Wildlife Trust’s projects.