Bluebells at Moss Valley by Amy Hattersley

Restoring habitats for wildlife at Long Wood, Moss Valley

Thanks to Viridor Credits, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust have been able to improve the habitat in Long Wood for wildflowers, insects, birds – and people –  throughout our Moss Valley Woodlands Nature Reserve.

The Trust has identified a loss of wildflowers such as bluebells and wood anemones at the wonderful nature reserve of Moss Valley Woodlands. The reason for this decline/reduction was explained by the poor condition of the woodland tracks, degraded by the water run-off of the surrounding hills.

Understandably, track users such as mountain bikers or horse riders tried to find drier areas to walk or ride, but this meant that vulnerable wildflowers were being damaged. Improving the track and repairing two brook crossing points means the wildflowers are now protected from trampling.

Marta Alfaro Tirado, the Trust’s Nature Recovery Manager (South) explained some of the other management techniques which have been used on site:

“Regular visitors to Moss Valley will have noticed that holly bushes are growing everywhere. In fact there are too many of them, which prevents sunlight reaching the ground. This means the wildflower seeds in those locations are unable to bloom. We hired a big machine which effectively ‘eats’ the holly and from this spring the sun will reach all those seeds on the ground, starting their flowering cycle again.”

Not all the work done through this project was focused on wildflowers, we also improved the woodland by halo thinning around veteran tress and by creating standing deadwood, a very important aspect of a healthy woodland. A decaying log is home of hundreds of insects, attracting birds which feed on them. Veteran trees are very important habitats as some wildlife can only survive if a tree is on its veteran stage of life. By cutting some of the younger trees growing around these veteran trees, we are allowing them to develop properly and without competition.

Last but not least, we have installed new signage showing our visitors which routes to follow when enjoying a walk or a ride in our reserve, because let’s be honest, all trees look the same and it’s very easy to get lost!

Marta said “We want to thank our funder Viridor Credits for donating the £24,590 which has made all this work possible. Moss Valley Woodlands is a very special place and thanks to their help there will be even more wildlife for visitors to this wonderful nature reserve to enjoy.”

Gareth Williams, Operations Manager at Viridor Credits, said “There can be a fine line between enjoying nature and unintentionally harming that which we want to enjoy. It’s important to make room for people when restoring and enhancing biodiversity, and this project helps visitors and the flora they come to enjoy to thrive.”

Image credits:
Main image – Moss Valley Woodlands by Amy Hattersley
Machine working to improve Moss Valley Woodlands by Rob Jones
Tree work to improve Moss Valley Woodlands by Dominic Bailey