The Hurst Water Meadow Trust in Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, has secured a £36,975 grant from Biffa Award; a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to communities and environmental projects across the UK as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.
The Trust was established in 1995 to manage neglected local water meadows alongside the River Thame. This latest project is the purchase of land along the lowest reach of the Thame to its confluence with the Thames. The newly acquired land is part of a riparian corridor linking existing Trust meadows and extending across the Thames to the Earth Trust ‘River of Life’ project. The acquisition and initial habitat enhancement work has been awarded funding under Biffa Award’s Rebuilding Biodiversity theme.
The new land is to be called Overy Mead Piece after fields named on an 1840 Tithe map. Initial works will include fencing, tree surgery and the provision of a display board for on-site information. Studies by volunteers (under professional guidance) of soil characteristics, hydrogeology and topography will inform decisions on the management of the land aimed at achieving a desirable habitat for plants and wildlife.
Gillian Johnson, Honorary Secretary, Hurst Water Meadow Trust, said:
“Conservationists recognise the importance of ‘habitat corridors’ linking areas rich in wildlife which might otherwise become isolated. The land which the Hurst Water Meadow Trust is purchasing with the generous support of Biffa Award, and will be known as Overy Mead Piece, is one such corridor.
“Already this land provides riverside habitat along the lower Thame in what is designated an Oxfordshire Conservation Target Area. With careful and thoughtful management the aim of the Hurst Water Meadow Trust is to promote favourable habitat for an increasing number of species so that this green corridor becomes even more valuable for wildlife.
“The land is already popular with walkers thanks to a permitted footpath which links to the Thames Path. In time walkers and nature lovers alike should find this riverside stretch to be of widening interest and delight.”
Dr Peter Pritchard, BEM, MA, FRCGP, Founding trustee and Hon Secretary of Trust 1996-2012, Hurst Water Meadow Trust, said:
“The Trust was set up to purchase neglected flood meadows along the River Thame and restore the biodiversity to more traditional levels. To date, the trustees have purchased and improved two meadows of around 23 acres. This project will incorporate an important length of the river bank and riverside meadow and provide a wildlife corridor between the Trust’s Old Bridge Meadow and the Earth Trust’s extensive holding. The permissive footpath between the village and the River Thames Path will be secured in perpetuity. This all provides a major contribution to biodiversity as well as an asset to the local population and the many users of the footpath.”
Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager, said:
“This project is an excellent example of how the Landfill Communities Fund can help improve local habitats for the benefit of wildlife and visitors. For more than 16 years environmental projects across the UK have benefited from the fund, and we look forward to supporting more in the future.”