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Dunwich Heath restoration work boost

PUBLISHED: 13:03 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:32 05 July 2010

SUFFOLK National Trust volunteers have been enlisted to help with the planting of 350 metres of hedge at Mount Pleasant Farm, in Suffolk, this March, as part of an ongoing project to restore arable farmland back to lowland heath.

SUFFOLK National Trust volunteers have been enlisted to help with the planting of 350 metres of hedge at Mount Pleasant Farm, in Suffolk, this March, as part of an ongoing project to restore arable farmland back to lowland heath.

Hidden away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath is a rare and precious habitat. Back in 2002, the National Trust jointly purchased Mount Pleasant Farm with the RSPB, a 163 acre block of arable land adjoining the National Trust property. The long-term aim is to restore the land to a mixture of acid grassland and heather, to increase the area of lowland heath habitat.

As part of the management project, hedges are being restored around the farm and this March will see the final stage of hedge planting take place. In time, the hedge will become the perfect habitat for wildlife, such as small mammals and birds - a new wildlife corridor for the Suffolk property.

Native stock, comprising predominately of hawthorn and blackthorn will be used, but with other hedgerow plants like dog rose and honeysuckle. Native hedgerow trees like oak and field maple will also be planted along the hedge line to replace recently lost elm. This new stretch will also have guards added around the trees, in a trial to see if this helps with their protection against deer grazing.

Suffolk National Trust volunteers are due to plant the remaining 350 metres of hedgerow on Sunday, March 1.

Grant Lohoar, property manager at Dunwich Heath, said: “The work that Suffolk National Trust volunteers carry out is vital. Varying in age and skill levels, the group help on a number of outdoor projects at National Trust properties throughout the county and their tasks can vary from tree planting, coppicing and fence building. They recently were called upon to help us with clearing the beach at Dunwich Heath, after timber from a Russian cargo vessel washed ashore.

“The hedge planting is just a small part of a larger project to recreate lowland heath and acid grassland at Mount Pleasant Farm, which will replace lost habitats and safeguard the long term access to Dunwich Heath as the coastline erodes. It is thought that the current access road to the National Trust property will be lost to the sea within the next 50 to 60 years,” added Mr Lohoar.

To find out more about how to volunteer with the National Trust, call 01284 747500.

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