A GROUP of residents and volunteers have come together to create a community nature area in Caversham.
Local resident Nikki Drury approached Reading Borough Council’s Neighbourhoods team and asked for the area to be cleared last year and the idea blossomed to put the piece of overgrown land to better use.
Since then the council has worked with residents and The Conservation Volunteers to create a haven for nature and wildlife, known locally as Dingley Dell.
Ms Drury told the Council her children often enjoyed playing in a wooded overgrown area behind Peel Close and adjacent to the play area in Caleta Close. They had also spotted a variety of wildlife in the area, including a family of muntjac deer.
Neighbourhoods officers thought it would be a great idea if the land could be adapted to create a recognised nature area to encourage more wildlife and to make it more accessible for local families to visit.
The land is owned by the Council’s Education department but cannot be developed due to the proximity of a brook and permission was given to go ahead with the plans.
The Neighbourhoods team contacted community volunteering charity The Conservation Volunteers and developed a joint project.
The Council worked with a small team of residents to clear litter from the land last Easter.
In January this year, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) worked with the Berkshire Biodiversity Action Team to clear rubbish and then the Reading Green Gym had about 26 people out to help dig, wood chip the path and carry out other improvements.
The Berkshire Biodiversity Action Team has since been back on several occasions to extend a dead hedge – a barrier constructed from foliage, cut branches etc – and finish the path.
The ambition is to install bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog homes and a bug hotel to encourage further wildlife. A fallen tree could be carved to create a seating area for picnics and some wild flowers could be planted.
The Conservation Volunteers are planning for the area to be used for a future Forest School, providing hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment.
Councillor Liz Terry, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, said:
“It is wonderful to see how this project has taken off from a simple suggestion from an interested resident to involving so many people.
“This overgrown piece of land has been transformed thanks to the hard work of local residents and volunteers.
“It is a real haven for wildlife and I hope it will provide many hours of enjoyment and learning opportunities for local families in the future.”
Buffy Harris-Jones, from The Conservation Volunteers, said:
“It has been a pleasure to work on this urban green space transformation and to meet lot of enthusiastic people.
“This lovely bit of green space was definitely overlooked and even some people that lived next door didn’t realise it was there. I hope by opening it up and clearing the rubbish we are making it safer and more inviting for local families to use and explore.”
Notes to Editors
Photo Opportunity: Media are invited to send a photographer/reporter to ‘Dingley Dell’ at 1pm on Thursday 9th March. Meet at the play area in Caleta Close, Caversham.
More information about The Conservation Volunteers and Green Gyms can be found here: http://www.tcv.org.uk/ and the Berkshire Biodiversity Action Team here: http://www.tcv.org.uk/southeast/volunteer-south-east/day-projects/berkshire-biodiversity-action-team.