A Word From Mayor Sue Bale

A Word From Woodbridge Town Mayor, Councillor Sue Bale:

As spring is finally here, thoughts turn to the great outdoors and to the
solace provided by our open spaces.

In the early 20th century, Mr E G Prettyman gave the areas known as the Lower Fen and the Upper Fen to the town of Woodbridge for use as a recreation area and they became known as Fen Meadow. This public open space, which is managed by Woodbridge Town Council, has been popular with families, walkers and nature lovers ever since.

Fen Meadow is one of the few remaining natural habitats in Woodbridge and its maintenance as a wild place is not just important for the southern marsh orchids but also for a wide range of other wildlife.

The long grass with its sequence of wildflowers throughout the season supports insects on which many bird species feed. The area acts as a
habitat to some well-loved species of hedgerow-loving birds such as
blackcap, whitethroat, goldfinch, chaffinch and siskin, as well as to
butterflies and stag beetles.

Swifts, an endangered species, feed over Fen Meadow and it is good to hear that the Woodbridge Swifts group has been encouraging the provision of nest boxes in the area and that, with the help of a grant from Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, a box has been installed in a house overlooking the meadow.

The town council is committed to maintaining and enhancing the rich natural habitat of Fen Meadow and is embarking on a range of improvements to encourage wildlife and biodiversity.

Improvements will be seen in two distinct sections. The first is a stretch
of about 30 metres from the parking area to the Scots Pines. The hedge is
being ‘laid’ by volunteers to allow it to regenerate and to extend its life. The
second section of the boundary runs from the Scots Pines to the bottom
of the meadow where it joins Fen Walk.

Here, some of the overhanging branches that are blocking the pathway and the light have been cut back. Around 1,000 plants of new native species such as field maple, sycamore and hawthorn, gratefully received from The Woodland Trust, have been planted to fill gaps and provide further valuable habitat within the existing hedge.

This plan for improvements was created after consultation with Transition Woodbridge and Friends of Fen Meadow and is the next stage in the council’s goal of preparing for and mitigating further climate change.

We are developing plans to maintain the area regularly and would really appreciate help from the community. If any readers would like to help with maintenance or be an observer of the changing habitat, I encourage them to look on the town council website for future opportunities to volunteer and to sign up to the council’s email list at: woodbridgesuffolk.gov.uk/home/mailchimp

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